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CFI Dismisses 'Bud' Challenge

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

31 October 2006


Ruling earlier this month, the European Court of First Instance rejected a request by German brewery Bitburger Brauerei to annul three decisions of the Board of Appeal of the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) upholding the rejection of oppositions which Bitburger Brauerei had lodged against three applications for Community trade marks made by the American company, Anheuser-Busch.

The applications were for registration of a word trade mark “BUD” and for registration of two figurative trade marks.

The Court stated that:

"Despite a slight similarity in visual and aural terms, considered as a whole, the trade marks applied for differ from the earlier German marks."

Bitburger Brauerei based its oppositions on the existence of the word trade mark “BIT” and three earlier figurative trade marks “BIT” and “Bitte ein Bit”, registered in Germany.

However, the Board of Appeal of OHIM took the view that there was no likelihood of confusion between the trade marks applied for and the earlier German marks and dismissed the appeal by Bitburger Brauerei against the rejection of its oppositions by the Opposition Division.

In its October 19 judgment, the Court of First Instance considered that there is only a slight visual similarity between the word marks “BIT” and “BUD”.

It went on to explain that:

"The figurative trade marks applied for by Anheuser Busch are not visually similar to the earlier German marks “BIT”. As regards aural similarity, the Court of First Instance finds, inter alia, that the difference in pronunciation of the vowels “i” and “u” enables the average German consumer to distinguish between “BIT” and “BUD”. Neither are the marks conceptually similar."

"Finally the Court of First Instance observes that the “Bitte ein Bit” marks are even more remote from the trade marks applied for than the word mark “BIT”. The Court of First Instance concludes that, considered as a whole, the marks at issue are not similar and there is no likelihood of confusion."

"Consequently, the Court has dismissed the actions brought by Bitburger Brauerei."


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