EU court rules "Bavarian" beer must come from Bavaria

EU court rules "Bavarian" beer must come from BavariaLuxembourg  - A European court ruled Thursday that "Bavarian" beer can only come from the southern German region, in a move that could force one Dutch producer to change the name of its brew.

The case was referred to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice by a court in Italy following complaints from Bayerischer Brauerbund, a German association of about 650 Bavarian brewers, which objected to the sale in Italy and other EU countries of Dutch "Bavaria" beer.

In 2001 "Bayerisches Bier" had been registered as a protected geographical indication (PGI), much like Italian Parmigiano cheese or French Champagne wine.

But the Dutch "Bavaria" brewer, which changed its name in 1928 to reflect the fact that it brewed beer the Bavarian way, has continued to sell its beer under the Bavaria brand.

The Dutch brewer had argued that the PGI denomination could not invalidate a pre-existing trademark.

Lothar Ebbertz of the Bavarian Brewers' Association told the Financial Times this week: "We're fighting against the trademark Bavaria because we know that a lot of people think they are drinking Bavarian beer if they see Bavaria on a beer bottle."

The European Court on Thursday ruled that the registration of "Bayerisches Bier" as a PGI "is valid", but referred a decision on whether Bavaria should change its name back to the national courts.

"Once the PGI has been registered, it is ... for the national courts, in order to permit the use of the trade mark to continue despite that conflict, to verify that the mark in question was registered in good faith before the date on which the application for registration was lodged and that there are no grounds for invalidity or revocation of the trade mark," the judges ruled.(dpa)