Anheuser-Busch is claiming victory in the latest legal clash with rival brewer Budejovicky Budvar over the trademarks Budweiser and Bud. In a statement the US brewer said it had successfully enforced its rights to the Budweiser trademark in Sweden. However Budejovicky Budvar has responded saying the ruling is not final and is open to appeal.

The news was the result of a City Court of Stockholm's ruling that Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar must stop using the term "Budweiser Budvar," or any other terms that includes "Budweiser" or "Budweis" in connection with its beer.  "This action secures Anheuser?Busch's exclusive right to use Budweiser in Sweden," the statement said.

In addition, Budejovicky Budvar and its distributors in Sweden were ordered to pay Anheuser-Busch nearly US$100,000 in damages and legal fees.

"This decision affirms our right to the Budweiser name, as many other courts have agreed, and acknowledges that Budejovicky Budvar has no right to the Budweiser name in Sweden," said Stephen Burrows, chief executive officer and president, Anheuser-Busch International. "We're pleased with the decision because Anheuser-Busch is the brewer that built the Budweiser trademark around the world and began using the Budweiser trademark in 1876, 19 years before Budejovicky Budvar was established and nearly 60 years before the Czech brewer registered the Budweiser trademark in any form."

The Court's ruling will effectively prevent Budejovicky Budvar from using "Budweiser" on its labels, packaging and advertising in Sweden.  The decision did not affect the Czech company's ability to use "Budvar" or "Budbrau" alone.

But Denisa Mylbachrová, PR manager Budejovicky Budvar said: "To date, we have not obtained an official opinion from our legal counsel. For this reason we cannot provide any detailed information concerning this case. Neverthless, I would like to emphasize, that this decision was issued by a  first-instance court, the decision is not final and Budejovicky Budvar can appeal from it. Sweden is one of our younger, dynamic developing markets, where we export beer with brand name of Budejovicky Budvar."

The Swedish ruling is the latest in a long line of legal battles between the two producers.
At the end of last month the Swiss Federal Court's Appeals Commission for Intellectual Property rejected objections raised by Anheuser-Busch against a Swiss Patent Office's decision from December 2000.

The Office had sustained Budweiser Budvar's objections against the registration of the BUD and American BUD trademarks by Anheuser-Busch. Budweiser Budvar is therefore the only brewery to be allowed to use the BUD trademark in Switzerland.

"The Swiss Federal Court notes that the grounds for recognising Budweiser Budvar's exclusive right to the BUD trademark include, without limitation, the final decision of the Swiss Supreme Court of 1999. That Court prohibited AB from using the designation BUD on the Swiss market and at the same time accorded the right of using the BUD trademark to Budweiser Budvar," said Jirí Bocek, Budweiser Budvar director at the time.

He added: "This is another decision that provides legal certainty to our future business. Switzerland ranks among our brewery's traditional medium-sized export markets. Products bearing our brands have been marketed in that country since as early as the 1960s."