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“Their goal is to gain exclusivity for their Budweiser all around the world,” said Mr. Bocek, who as head of Budvar for the past 21 years has raised the heat on the larger rival.

Co-existence is possible, however. In fact, the two companies already share the Budweiser name in one country, Britain.

Both brewers were granted the right to use the name in 2000 after a British court ruled that drinkers were aware of the difference between the two beers.

An appeals court this summer rejected AB InBev’s request to have Budvar’s trademark declared invalid.

AB InBev is not happy with the situation.

“Our concern is that co-existence on the U.K. market with the Budweiser brand will lead to consumer confusion,” said Karen Couck, a spokeswoman for AB Inbev. “We want to make sure that when our customers order a Budweiser that they receive the clean, crisp taste of the global brand we have created.”

Most beer drinkers would easily spot the difference, says Iain Loe, former research manager for Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale, a consumer rights organization.

Budvar has “a full-bodied taste,” while “AB’s Budweiser has little taste, or in the words of AB InBev, a clean taste,” said Mr. Loe. “Customers know which beer is which.”

Beer-battle polka

The companies’ claims to the Budweiser name are built on two main arguments — geography and history.

Budejovicky Budvar was founded in 1895 in the southern city of Ceske Budejovice — called Budweis at the time by the German-speaking people who formed about 40 percent of the area’s population.

Beer has been brewed here since 1265 and has been known for centuries as Budweiser.

Budvar argues that only beer that is brewed in this corner of the Czech Republic can be called Budweiser.

The founders of Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis used the name for their product because it was so well-known. The brewer, founded in 1852, began producing Budweiser, America’s first national beer brand, in 1876 — 19 years before Budvar was founded.

The two companies have been in a legal battle since 1906. Today, the dispute is being waged through 61 suits in 11 countries.

Story Continues →