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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Another budding beer dispute, but this time it's Bavaria

Via the IPKat's informative friend Stephanie Bodoni (Bloomberg) comes news of the European Court of Justice hearing today in Case C-343/07 Bavaria N.V. and Bavaria Italia Srl v Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V. In this reference for a preliminary ruling Bavaria NV, the Netherlands' second-biggest beer brewer, is challenging a group of German brewers that want it to stop using the name Bavaria on that beautiful golden beverage. At issue is the validity of EU rules (Regulation 2081/1992, now consolidated as Regulation 510/2006) that gave the Bavarian brewers rights in the terms "Bayerisches Bier", the German term for "Bavarian beer", and whether they can block Bavaria's trade marks. Says another of the IPKat's friends Massimo Sterpi (left), arguing for the Dutch brewers:

"The Bavaria trade marks were valid, are valid and were registered before the EU rights were given to the Bavarian brewers". Those rules "can't be used as a weapon to attack earlier trade marks".
The Bavarian brewers' association disagrees. It received EU protection for the name "Bayerisches Bier" in 2001, then sued Bavaria NV in Germany, Spain and Italy, seeking to cancel the company's trade mark rights or to force it to stop using the Bavaria name on its brew. According to their spokesman Walter Koenig:
"In Italy, which is our number one export market, the distribution of Bavaria beer by the Dutch brewer confuses Italian consumers. We don't want to have others take this business away".
Lawyers for various EU member states and the commission asked Bavaria why it didn't seek to challenge the German brewers' right in 2001, saying that now it is now too late to do so. But Sterpi replied that Bavaria -- who are supported by the Netherlands government -- believed then that the EU Regulation allowed its trade marks to co-exist with the Bavarian brewers' rights.

The IPKat wonders why it is that beer brands beginning with the letter "B" seem to be so troublesome. Just when it seems that the Budweiser saga is drawing to a close, the Bavarians spring into action. Merpel says, if Bavaria beer from the Netherlands is confusing, after a beer or two the terms "Dutch" and "Deutsch" can have much the same effect.

To read the questions that were referred to the ECJ, click here
Bavaria in Switzerland here; Bavaria in South Africa here; Bavaria in Colombia here


Anonymous said...

An appropriately timed item. Oktober Fest starts this weekend in Munich.

Anonymous said...

That's a fine pair of jugs she's got there...

Anonymous said...

Of course, since the Oktoberfest only allows beer brewed in Munich to be sold, anti-competetive activities can be argued, e.g abuse of a dominant position, discrimination against other EU suppliers come to mind for a start.

Re the above comment - they are not jugs but Maße

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, if you look very carefully, you will see that the one is just a shade bigger than the other. Which is hardly surprising, given the pressing need to get them out, for the tongue-lolling customers, as quick as possible. They used to be hidden behind opaque material, but now they are required by law to be in transparent containers, so you can see straight away that yours is as big as it should be. Your measure (Maß, pronounced Maas) of beer, that is.

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell the second "anonymous" that the word "jugs" is an English euphemism for "breasts". And they are not pronounced Maße ....

Anonymous said...

At the Bavarian Trading Standards Office (weights and measures) do they ever have Inspector posts standing vacant? Sounds like nice work, if you can get it.

Tibor Gold said...

why, you ask?
Because there is a lot of brass in brewing barley-based beverages dispensable in so many different booze outlets, bought by blokes mainly

Anonymous said...

The preliminary opinion is now available on BAILII:


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