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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Czech brewery wins battle to sell Budweiser

Czech brewery wins battle to sell Budweiser

CzechOk.jpg
CzechOk.jpg

ASupreme Court decision last month has given Czech beer brewery Budejovikcy

Budvar the right to sell beer in Cambodia under the "Budweiser"

name.

Known as the 'King of Beers' in the United States, the American brand "Budweiser" recently lost a court case to a much smaller and less well-known Czech brewery, which also markets a pilsner by the same name. It is unclear at this point what effect, if any, the decision would have on either company's ability to market its beverage.

Budvar has been locked in an international dispute with

American-based Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc., over rights to the famous beer moniker

and related names for a century.

Currently, the companies are involved

in some 40 lawsuits worldwide.

In Cambodia, the case dates back to 2000,

when a municipal court ruled in favor of Anheuser-Busch.

An appeals

court decided in favor of Budvar in 2002, and March 29 of this year the Supreme

Court upheld that ruling, said court clerk Leng Vuth, who was present at the

latest hearing.

"Five judges made the decision, and then announced it

publicly on April 7," Vuth said. "But we still need to complete the official

paperwork."

Anheuser-Busch issued US copyrights for the Budweiser name in

1876, while the Budvar company wasn't founded until 1895.

However,

locals have brewed beer in the Czech city of Ceske Budejovice - called "Budweis"

by its German-speaking inhabitants - since 1265.

At first, the overlap

caused few problems. But as Anheuser-Busch rapidly grew and global trade boomed,

the beers started to clash in foreign markets.

While Anheuser-Busch

claims to have undisputed rights to the Budweiser trademark in most of the

world, controversy remains over what countries can sell which brand.

In

the wake of Cambodia's decision, Anheuser-Busch representatives said they would

be exploring their legal options, according to reports from the Associated

Press.

Stephen Burrows, president and chief executive of Anheuser-Busch

Intl. Inc., said in a statement that the company would continue selling

Budweiser in Cambodia.

A representative of Phnom Penh-based company Anco

Sutl Co. Ltd. said it was the sole distributor of Anheuser-Busch Budweiser in

Cambodia, but would not comment on the volume of beer they dealt with or details

of the copyright case.

The Post could not find a distributor for Budvar

in Phnom Penh.

Vuth did not know why the judges ruled in favor of Budvar

or if the decision was related to intellectual property rights protection

spurred by Cambodia's WTO accession.

No Supreme Court judges would speak

with the Post. The court also refused to release the names of the five judges

involved in the decision.

When Supreme Court judge Pen Savoeun was called

for comment Thursday morning, he declined to talk, saying he was drunk at a

wedding.

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