Czech brewer Budweiser Budvar and American brewing behemoth Anheuser-Busch are no strangers to the courtroom. Both are desperate to keep the Budweiser name - but a series of legal victories may now be handing the Czech company the upper hand in Europe. Budvar has now gained permission to launch a super strong lager in the UK using the 'Bud' name.

Budweiser Budvar is to launch a new premium lager in the UK, following its legal victory over American brewing giant Anheuser Busch in the Court of Appeal. Bud Super Strong has an alcoholic content of 7.2%, and will be marketed primarily as a seasonal product sold mostly through pubs and bars.

The rival brewers began their legal wrangling in the 1930s, but abandoned them at the outbreak of the Second World War. Now, however, hostilities have resumed; they are currently embroiled in over 40 legal battles throughout the world. All revolve around the contentious issue of which company is entitled to use the Budweiser name - and with the two brewers competing head on both in established and emerging markets, the verdicts are a crucial and highly charged affair.

The UK court dismissed Anheuser-Busch's claim that the Czech brewer was banned from using the names Bud and Budweiser Budbrau in the UK. The decision was a legal first, allowing both companies to continue using the name Bud in the UK simultaneously. Similar verdicts have been handed down in Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia in the past year.

The case in the UK hinged on the brewers' competing claims to have been the first to use the Budweiser name. Anheuser-Busch began using the famous moniker in 1876, whereas its opponent was only founded in 1895. However, Budvar countered and raised the stakes, claiming that the name refers to a type of beer that has been brewed in a specific region of the Czech Republic since 1260, predating the American claim by 616 years.

History always being written by the victor, Budvar is riding high. Its new premium lager will be available in the UK at the beginning of the New Year - and further legal triumphs are likely to continue opening markets for the company.

Related research: Datamonitor, "Going out" (DMCM0082)