The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) found that Applicant’s mark WINEBUD for wine is confusingly similar to Anheuser-Busch’s (“AB”) BUD mark.  The TTAB found that BUD is famous for beer and that consumers are likely to think WINEBUD for wine is produced by the makers of BUD beer. 

Applicant filed to register WINEBUD for alcoholic beverages excluding beer.  AB opposed, asserting that WINEBUD is confusingly similar to its marks BUD, BUDWEISER and several other BUD-containing marks, all registered for and in use in connection with beer.

The TTAB found the record left no doubt that AB’s BUD mark is famous for beer, having been sold since 1876, extensively advertised and promoted, and having “extremely large” sales.  In addition, BUD LIGHT and BUD are the best-selling and second best-selling beers in the U.S., respectively. 

The TTAB also agreed with AB that the marks are similar, pointing first to the fact that WINEBUD incorporates the entirety of the BUD trademark.  Applicant argued, however, that the marks are highly dissimilar in appearance, sound, connotation and commercial impression because “vine bud” is a recognized term in the field of viticulture.   BUDWEISER, on the other hand, is a town in the Czech Republic famed for brewing beer, and BUD is merely an abbreviation of BUDWEISER.  The Board found the record did not support Applicant’s contentions. 

Applicant did not submit any evidence to suggest that any substantial number of relevant consumers have heard of the small town of České Bedějovice or Budweis, its former name, or that consumers associate BUD beer with that town.  Nor did Applicant’s evidence, consisting of one winery trade article, convince the TTAB that “vine bud” is a recognized term in the field of viticulture.  Rather, the TTAB found the “WINE” component of Applicant’s mark is merely descriptive of the goods and BUD is the distinctive component, which is identical to AB’s famous mark.

As to the similarity of beer and wine, the Board has often held that wine and beer are related goods, having overlapping trade channels and often both sold at low price points.  Further, the fact that AB has never expanded use of its BUD mark to use on wine was of no relevance to the TTAB.  Rather, the relevant question was whether purchasers seeing a similar “BUD” mark on wine would think that AB has expanded its product line to include wine.   The TTAB held that the fame of the BUD mark makes it likely that consumers would be confused.

Anheuser-Busch, LLC v. Innvopak Systems Pty Ltd., Case No. 91194148 (TTAB, August 19, 2015) [precedential].