Anheuser-Busch Cos. of the United States and Budejovicky Budvar of the Czech Republic have agreed to put aside one of the world's longest running trademark disputes in the name of selling more Czech pilsner in America.
The two companies have fought over the Budweiser trademark, running up millions of dollars in legal bills around the world. Anheuser-Busch cannot sell its flagship beer under the Budweiser name in most of Europe, using the name Bud instead. In the U.S., the Czech company cannot use the Budvar brand name, instead selling its beer as Czechvar.
Under the agreement announced by the two brewing firms this morning, Czechvar, currently sold in 30 states, will go nationwide using A-B’s marketing, sales and distribution clout. The move further expands the St. Louis based brewery's alliances with imported brands. Czechvar joins Grolsch, Tiger, Kirin, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Bass Pale Ale, Leffe and other beers in A-B's import portfolio.
The two companies are calling the agreement "an historic alliance." And while it does not clarify which is the "real" Budweiser from a trademark standpoint -- more than 40 lawsuits over the trademark will move forward in other nations -- it does signal a change in approach by the two companies.
"After years of differences, this is a meaningful step for two great brewers to form a relationship that is good for both of our businesses," said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive of Anheuser-Busch.
"We managed to move away from discussions between lawyers and towards a practical dialogue," said Jiri Bocek, director general of Budejovicky Budvar.