Anheuser-Busch (AB) has lost a legal battle to sell its beer under the brand name Budweiser in Portugal. The European Court of Human Rights ruled against AB yesterday (10 October) in its long-running battle with Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar.

The US giant went to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to appeal a 2001 decision by Portugal's Supreme Court, which ruled that Budejovicky Budvar had the right to use the brand name under a 1986 treaty between the Czech Republic and Portugal protecting registered designations of origin.

AB applied to register the Budweiser trademark in Portugal 1981 which, it argued, was prior to any of the existing Portuguese rights of Budejovicky Budvar.

AB had claimed that the Portuguese Supreme Court's decision violated the European Convention on Human Rights by unlawfully taking away property without compensation.

In a statement, AB said: "We are, of course, disappointed with this ruling in that it allowed for the expropriation of an existing trademark that had been applied for but not yet registered.  Nevertheless, we are very pleased with the reasoning of the ECHR as it sets a strong precedent to defeat the expropriation of registered trademarks in favour of geographic indications.  This judgment has no effect on AB's business in Portugal as our trademark for "Bud" remains valid and unchallenged."
The US brewer continued: "Anheuser-Busch has made significant investments since 1876 to develop our Budweiser and Bud brand names throughout the world, and we will aggressively protect our famous trademarks from any infringement. We disagree with the court's ruling and are considering an appeal to the Grand Chamber of Judges in light of the persuasive dissenting opinion issued by two of the court's judges."