Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trademark News Involving Some Favorite Beverages

In the past week, there have been two signifiant trademark decisions involving well known alcoholic beverages - Budweiser and Club Havana.

Last week, Europe's second highest court rejected a European-wide trademark application by Anheuser- Busch, now owned by InBev, to register the Budweiser trademark in the EU.  Although Anheuser-Busch InBev owns the Budweiser or Bud trademark in 23 of the 27 EU Member States, the Court of First Instance upheld the decision of the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market or OHIM, that a Czech company, Budejovicky Budvar, has the right to use the Budweiser name in some EU Member States based on its prior use there.  Both companies have used the name for many years due to connections with the Budweis region in Germany.  The decision may be appealed to the European Court of Justice.

In other trademark news, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a  lawsuit by Cubaexport, Cuba's state-owned export agency, yesterday seeking to renew its U.S. trademark rights for Havana Club rum.  Although Havana Club is not sold in the U.S. due to the trade embargo, Cuba originally obtained a trademark for the name in 1976 in anticipation of being able to sell the product when the embargo is lifted.  In 1998, Congress passed a law that prohibited the registration or renewal of Cuban trademarks, partly at the urging of Bacardi, which wants to use that brand in the U.S.  Of course, all this may change if the U.S. decides to ease the Cuban embargo.



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