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U.S. giant buys Czech Budweiser brewery

Added: Thursday, January 12th 2012

Concerns about the future of the world-famous Czech brewery Budweiser Budvar have been fuelled by the news that the giant American brewer Anheuser Busch has bought Budvar's rival in Ceske Budejovice, the Mestansky Brewery.

Anheuser Busch, which owns the American brand Budweiser, is now part of the world's biggest brewing group, AB InBev. AB has been locked in a trademark dispute with Budvar for more than a century. It will be delighted by a pincer movement that has landed it the right to own a Czech brewery with historic rights to the name Budweiser.

Mestansky Brewery means Town Brewery. It was established by German speakers as the Citizens' Brewery in the 19th century when Ceske Budejovice was known by its German name of Budweis. In 1895, Czech speakers launched the Budejovicky Pivovar, shortened to Budvar, and when it started to export beer using the Budweiser trademark it was pitched into a legal tussle with Anheuser Busch that continues to this day.

Confusion has been deepened since the European Union gave both breweries in Ceske Budejovice the rights to use the trademark Budweiser as a "guarantee of origin". This guarantee is likely to be used by Anheuser Busch in its dispute with Budvar.

But Budvar said it is "unfazed" by the sale of Mestansky. A spokesman said the sale had created speculation in the Czech press that it was in preparation for AB buying Budvar. But he pointed out that Budvar is still owned by the state and the government had made it clear the brewery will not be privatised until the trademark dispute with AB is settled. Budvar claims that while its brewery opened 20 years later than AB's first plant in St Louis, Missouri, Budweiser is both a historic and generic term for beers from Budweis.

The Mestansky Brewery has been up for sale for some time.