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Czechs toast Bud-beating beer win

Na zdraví!

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Beer drinkers in the Czech Republic, and that's most of country, will be raising a glass today to celebrate a local victory against Anheuser-Busch, the maker of US "beer" Budweiser.

The problem was that one of the Czech Republic's most famous beers, and biggest exports after Škodas and Semtex, is called Budweiser Budvar.

The battle over the name has been running for over 15 years - President Václav Havel promised to defend the Budweiser name in the mid-90s when the US company first tried to buy rights from the Czech firm.

In 1996 Anheuser-Busch tried to register a European trademark and a long legal battle began.

The European Court of Justice said Budějovický Budvar, which opposed the move, was not required to provide proof of renewal of its earlier mark. The court rejected the US application for an identical mark, found no grounds for appeal and therefore rejected the claim in its entirety.

The ECJ release is available from here.

Beer has been brewed in the town of České Budějovice since the 13th century but in its modern form, and name, since 1895. Anheuser-Busch is no spring chicken either - it has been busy in St Louis, Missouri since 1852.

The local myth when this reporter lived in the Czech Republic was that you shouldn't drink more than three Budvars without risking a headache, but maybe they just wanted to keep it for themselves. ®

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