The European Court of Justice (ECJ) appears to be encouraging Czech brewery Budejovický Budvar to lodge a European Union (EU)-wide application for geographical indication protection for its beer.

In a preliminary ruling, announced today (5 February), ECJ advocate general Dámaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer said a previous bilateral agreement between Austria and the former Czechoslovakia, which said beers called 'Bud' must be Czech, may offer no protection, unless Budvar also applied for EU-wide protection.

"A name…which has not been notified to the Commission cannot obtain protection from one or more [EU] member states independently, and is unprotected," said Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer.

However, in a formal opinion that may not be wholly welcomed by Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the judge said there would be no need for "a consumer survey" on whether drinkers associated Budvar with its home region ahead of the EU granting such protection.

The name must simply be "sufficiently clear to call to mind a product and its origin", Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer added

Historically, the ECJ tends to adopt its advocate generals' opinions.