The fight for the Budweiser name has taken on a new angle as yet another brewery lays a legal claim to the famous trademark.

This time though the battle is internal with a brewer in the Czech town of Ceské Budejovice moving to strip its cross-town rival of the local rights to the famous name.

On July 19, the brewer Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar filed at the Patent Office for the cancellation of the Budweiser trademark held in the Czech Republic by its much larger competitor, Budweiser Budvar, the arch-rival of US-based Anheuser-Busch. The state-owned Budvar is to file its response by September 30.

If successful, the cancellation would not directly impact Budvar's ongoing 40+ battles with Anheuser-Busch for the Budweiser and Bud name around the globe. However, any verdict is likely to be studied closely by lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The move by Mestansky comes one year after it was shut out of the German market when Budvar won the sole right to the Budweiser name in Germany. Mestansky had been pinning its hopes on an export beer labeled "Budweiser Burgerbrau". Curiously enough, the blue and silver label did not attract any protests from Anheuser-Busch.

Although Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar is less well known than Budvar, it has been brewing beer in the city once known as Budweis for longer. Mestansky was founded in 1795 by German-speaking landowners. Budvar opened its doors in 1895.

Following the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and the privatization of the brewery sector, Budvar remained under state control and its cross-town rival was spun-off as one of three breweries in the Jihoceske Pivovory conglomerate.

Both breweries have tangled in court several times since 1992 over who has the right to the city's name. Mestansky has also followed in Budvar's footsteps by claiming the right to an appellation of origin, registering the "Budweiser Bier" moniker last year.

While Budvar has prospered under state ownership, its privately-owned rival has not been able to harness the cachet of the "Budweiser" name.

Within the Czech Republic, Mestansky has been widely rumored to be the Trojan horse by which Anheuser-Busch might get control over Budvar - and the Budweiser name. Following the final round in its privatization, Mestansky was controlled by Egada, a shell company with unknown owners.

Prior to this latest dispute, the list of rumored owners range from the Budvar management all the way to a local businessman/politician and a brewery in St. Louis.


Strategic Review 2000 - Anheuser-Busch
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