German brewer Bitburger has lost its appeal against an EU court ruling allowing Anheuser-Busch to register its Bud, American Bud and Anheuser-Busch Bud brands.

Bitburger had argued that the names were too similar to Bit and Bitte ein Bit, its own brand trademarks. However, EU appeal court judges ruled today (19 October) that "the marks at issue are not similar and there is no likelihood of confusion".

The court said that there was only a slight visual similarity between Bit and Bud, and that there was no risk of the words being confused when spoken aloud, since the pronunciation of the 'i' and 'u' was very different.

A-B cannot call its beer Budweiser in Germany - arch rival Budejovicky Budvar holds the rights to the name there - and would have faced a major problem had the court overruled its right to the shorter Bud form as well.

The two companies also clashed earlier this year over the football World Cup, held in Germany. A-B was the official beer of the tournament, but bowed to pressure from local consumers and allowed Bitburger to also be served at the event, albeit in non-branded glasses.