MOSCOW, January 22 - RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. The General Court of the European Union (GCEU) held Tuesday that American brewery Anheuser-Busch is entitled to register the Community trademark “BUD” despite Budvar’s protestations based on the insignificant use of the appellation of origin BUD in Austria and France.

According to a press release issued by the court, between 1996 and 2000, Anheuser-Busch sought to register BUD with the Community trade mark office. Czech brewery Budějovický Budvar opposed the move, charging that the appellation of origin “BUD” was protected in France, Italy, Portugal, and Austria.

In international property terms, an appellation of origin is “a term that refers to the specific characteristics of wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products that are unique to a region,” in the words of Barron’s Law Dictionary.

The Community trade mark office rejected the Budvar claim based on insufficient proof of the appellation of origin argument in connection with Austria, France, Italy, and Portugal.

Upon hearing this case initially, the GCEU held in Budvar’s favor. When Anheuser-Busch appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), however, it held that geographical indications could only prevent trade mark registration if such were actually used in a significant manner. With this, the ECJ remanded the case to the GCEU for consideration of whether Budvar’s use of the appellation of origin “BUD” was sufficient to serve as grounds from which to oppose Anheuser-Busch’s Community trademark registration.

In considering Budvar's submissions, the GCEU held Tuesday that the Czech brewery had failed to provide sufficient evidence of the significant use of the appellation of origin “BUD” in France and Austria prior to the date in 1996 when Anheuser-Busch filed for a Community trade mark.

The GCEU thus held that “the condition of use in the course of trade of a sign of more than mere local significance is not satisfied as regards [French or Austrian] territory.”