By Jason Hovet and Robert Muller
PRAGUE (Reuters) - The global brewer behind the U.S. Budweiser lager has moved to strengthen its ownership of the name, making a small acquisition in the Czech city whose rival brew fought for years over rights to one of the world's best-known brands.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA ABI.BR> said it had bought a brewery called Samson in the southern Czech city of Budweis, German language name of Ceske Budejovice and home to Budejovicky Budvar, a state-owned brewery that makes Budvar, or Budweiser.
The two companies have battled in hundreds of legal disputes over the past century over trademarks such as Budweiser or Bud and AB Inbev uses the shortened version of the name in some markets. But the acquisition shows AB Inbev still wanted to bolster its position regarding the brand.
"While the 2013 EU-wide trademark registration for Bud already ensured AB InBev has virtually world-wide protection for either the Bud or Budweiser brands, the acquisition further strengthens AB InBev’s legal position, particularly as it relates to the Budweiser brand," AB InBev said.
Budvar, which says it holds 380 trademarks in 101 countries, said the acquisition from Cyprus-based firm Taurus One Ltd would not affect its position in trademark disputes.
Taurus spokesman Michal Donath said the company had already in 2011 sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev another firm split off from Samson, including some associated trademarks. But it did not buy the actual brewery until now.
No financial details on the deal were given.
AB Inbev, whose brands also include Corona and Stella Artois, brewed 425 million hectolitres of beer in 2013, versus 1.4 million made by its Czech trademark rival Budvar. Samson made 0.13 million hectolitres in 2012.
(Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by David Holmes)