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Court blocks Anheuser in German market.

Associated Press-Beer giant Anheuser-Busch suffered a setback in bringing the Bud brand name to Germany when a court ruled Friday that the familiar name is too easily confused with Bit, the diminutive of the popular German beer Bitburger.

"It's very difficult, Bud, Bit, Bit or Bud," said Wolfgang Krueger, spokesman for the Federal Court of Justice, which ruled on AnheuserBusch's request to market its Budweiser beer under two new brand names in Germany.

The court said it struck down the proposed name "American Bud" and deferred judgment on "AnheuserBusch Bud" because using them in Germany would likely water down the brand name Bit.

Under an agreement with a rival Czech brewery that also uses the name Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch does not market its beer under the Budweiser brand name in several European countries, including Germany.

Talks aimed at a global settlement of the trademark dispute ended in failure in 1994, and the two competitors are embroiled in about 60 lawsuits across Europe.

In the meantime, Anheuser-Busch gets around the problem by marketing the beverage as simply "Bud" in 15 countries, "American Bud" in Hungary and "Anheuser-Buseb B" in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch had sought to bring a better recognized Budweiser name to Germany under the newly proposed names.

But the German court ruled against Anheuser's "American Bud," saying that the brand would definitely cause confusion with Bitburger, which uses the slogan, "Bitte em Bit," or "A Bit, please."

The other name, "Anheuser-Busch Bud," would not necessarily confuse German beer drinkers, the court said, and it referred final judgment on that name back to a lower court.

"We are optimistic that the Hamburg court will eventually clear the way for 'Anheuser-Busch Bud,'" said Stephen J. Burrows, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch International. "We continue to believe both names in the case would not lead to confusion with 'Bit.'"
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 7, 2001
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