With its decision No. 21023 dated September 13, 2013, the Italian Supreme Court reversed the second instance ruling of the Court of Appeal of Rome, which declared, on request of ANHEUSER BUSCH INC (A.B.) - the US company producing the "Budweiser" beer - the invalidity of the Italian trademark “Budweiser” registered by the Czech brewery BUDEJOVJCKY BUDVA (B.B.).
This case is only the last of a long dispute among B.B. and A.B. over the right to use the term Budweiser. This term represents both a beer trademark (“Budweiser”) and the name of the place of origin of beer (Budweis is the German term which identifies the actual city of Budejovice).
The now reversed decision of the Court of Appeal of Rome, on the one hand, had declared the invalidity of the trademarks registered by B.B and, on the other hand, had ruled out that the trademarks of A.B. were likely to deceive the public as to the origin of the product. In particular, the Court of Appeal had stated that the term Budweiser could not be perceived as an appellation of origin because, even if it recalls the ancient city of Budweis, today no longer corresponds to any actual place.
The Supreme Court instead stated that, in order to assess the validity of an appellation of origin, it is not relevant the actual existence of the place, but it should be verified if the notoriety of the appellation persists even though it is no longer officially used.
A confirmation of this principle can be found – goes on the highest Court - in article 14 of the Italian Code of Industrial Property (d.lgs. 20/2005) which forbids the use of those signs capable to mislead the public “on geographical origin”, without requiring that this origin is actual or not.
Now the Court of Appeal shall revise its ruling, in light of the above principle set by the Supreme Court.