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A beer claiming to be the original “Budweiser” will soon be sold in the shadow of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., maker of the better-known beer of the same name. Czech brewer Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar isn’t interested in picking a trademark fight, at least not in the U.S., where it’s calling its beer B.B. Burgerbrau — burgerbrau translated means “Beer of the City’s Residents.” In Europe, the same brew is sold as “Budweiser Bier.” “I don’t want to stick my hand in that fire,” said Rob Neuner, president of Classic Beverages LLC of Darien, Conn., the U.S. importer of B.B. Burgerbrau. “Budweiser is a trademark of Anheuser-Busch. We don’t want to market the beer as Budweiser per se, but we don’t see any problem saying the beer is from the town of Budweis.” Labels use the Czech term “Budejovicke Pivo,” which translated means “Budweiser Bier,” and the brew will offer point-of-sale references to “Czech Budweis City” as the site where the beer is made. B.B. Burgerbrau was introduced in a handful of U.S. markets this spring. It will arrive in St. Louis — along with Kansas City and some other Missouri markets — within two weeks, Neuner said. He said B.B. Burgerbrau uses the same recipe of the original beer that dates back two centuries and offers a taste that “bridges the gap” between domestic U.S. beers and more full-bodied imports. “It’s very soft, very drinkable, it doesn’t fill you up,” Neuner said. Mark Bobak, chief legal officer for Anheuser-Busch, disputed claims that B.B. Burgerbrau was the first to use the Budweiser trademark. “Anheuser-Busch has no objections to them selling beer in the United States as long as they do not infringe our intellectual property rights,” Bobak said in a statement. “The Czech brewer does not have any rights whatsoever to the Budweiser or Bud names in the United States. “Anheuser-Busch has made significant investments since 1876 to develop our Budweiser and Bud brand names in the United States and throughout the world, and we will protect our famous trademarks from any possible infringements by any brewer.” Anheuser-Busch and another Czech brewer, Budejovicky Budvar, are involved in lawsuits in about 40 jurisdictions throughout Europe and Asia in a dispute over the Budweiser name that dates back 99 years. Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser is the world’s best-selling full-calorie beer, and its Bud Light is the best-selling beer of any kind. The St. Louis-based company claims its use of the name Budweiser dates to 1876 — 19 years before Budejovicky Budvar came into existence. Brewery founder Adolphus Busch chose the Budweiser name because it had a slightly Germanic sound to it, yet was easily pronounceable by Americans, making it appealing to both Americans and German immigrants, the brewery said. But BMP said its beer was first brewed in 1802, long before Anheuser-Busch came into existence, and was known then as Budweiser Burgerbrau. It was named after the Czech city in which it was made, Ceske Budejovice, but called Budweis by the German-speaking people who populated the area. Nearly a century later, Budejovicky Budvar — also based in Ceske Budejovice — began brewing a beer with the Budweiser name, leading to a legal dispute with Anheuser-Busch that dates to 1906. Some European and Asian courts have favored one company, some the other. Until 1918, the half-German, half-Czech Ceske Budejovice was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was officially known by its German name “Budweis.” When the Czechs declared their independence in 1918, they officially changed the name to Ceske Budejovice. Both Budejovicky Budvar and B.B. Burgerbrau say references to Budweiser or Budweis are appropriate nods to a town with a rich beer heritage dating to the 13th century. “It’s the name of the town, Budweis,” Neuner said. “There are certain qualities associated with that town.” Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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