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Intellectual Property: CFI Finds “Budweiser” is a Protected Label for Beer
Contact Philip Bentley
The European Court of First Instance (CFI) has ruled in the long-running “Budweiser” trademark dispute between the American brewer Anheuser-Busch and the famous Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar. The dispute arose when the American brewer tried to register “Budweiser” and “Bud” as EU trademarks for beer and other products. Budvar opposed all registrations on the ground that “Budweiser” and “Bud” were protected by earlier appellations of origin used by Budvar. The EU trademark office agreed with Budvar that “Budweiser” was protected but only for the beer sector. The CFI upheld this decision but rejected Budvar’s claim that the protection extended to products other than beer. The CFI also noted that the American brewer had withdrawn its challenge to the refusal to allow its registration of “Budweiser” as a trademark in the beer sector.
Competition: Solution to CISAC Case Market-Tested
As part of its ongoing investigation, the European Commission has published the commitments presented by CISAC (Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) and certain national collecting societies concerning their standard model contract for the management of public performance rights. The Commission was concerned that the “membership clause” and the “territoriality clause” may restrict competition. The parties have offered to modify both clauses. Interested parties have 30 days to submit their observations. If this so-called “market test” is found to be acceptable, the Commission can declare the commitments binding and close the proceedings.
Police and Judicial Cooperation: Council Decision on Increased Cross-Border Information Exchange
On 14 June 2007 the Justice and Home Affairs Council reached an agreement on a Council Decision on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime. This Decision contains provisions based on the essential parts of the Prüm Treaty and aims at improving the exchange of information between the authorities responsible for the prevention and investigation of criminal offences. From now on, important provisions of the Prüm Treaty, a police cooperation agreement (originally signed by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain on 27 May 2005) will be implemented in all Member States. After implementation, national law enforcement agencies will have mutual access to each other’s DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration information systems.
State Aid: Commission Opens Investigation into Regulated Electricity Tariffs in France
The European Commission has initiated a formal investigation into potential aid granted to large and medium-sized companies in France in the form of artificially low regulated electricity tariffs. The system appears to be administered by the State and financed mainly by the State-owned company Electricité de France and by parafiscal contributions levied on all French electricity consumers. The Commission is concerned in particular with the so-called "green" and "blue" tariffs, which are the lowest ones and applicable to medium and large companies. The competition problems raised by artificially low State-regulated tariffs were highlighted by the Commission in its energy sector inquiry published at the beginning of the year. Interested parties will have the opportunity to submit comments.
Police and Judicial Cooperation: Protection of Personal Data in Criminal Matters
The Council of the European Union has adopted a proposal for a Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the context of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The Framework Decision is based on the Council’s existing minimum data protection principles. The proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament for comments. The Parliament’s comments will be taken into consideration but are not binding on the Council. The Council intends to adopt the Framework Decision by the end of 2007.
Environment: Pioneer CO2 Storage Facility Launched in Germany
The European Union’s Energy Commissioner has announced the launch of a test carbon dioxide (CO2) facility in Ketzin, Germany. This pilot project, which is co-funded by the European Union, involves burying CO2 emissions from power generation in a saline aquifer at a depth of approximately 1,800 metres. Among other things, the project will test different ways of injecting CO2 underground and establish reliable practices for monitoring the long-term stability of stored CO2. The project in Ketzin is a key component of the EU’s overall research project on CO2 storage in Europe, known as “CO2SINK,” which is intended to (i) provide alternatives to the release of CO2 emissions, and (ii) inform future policy decisions concerning energy generation.
State Aid : Belgian Start-Up Aid for Antwerp Airport
The European Commission has approved Belgian start-up aid for promoting the development of Antwerp Airport as a regional airport. In order to increase the number of passengers travelling through Antwerp Airport, aid is to be granted to air carriers starting new routes or providing additional departures from Antwerp. Air carriers can receive a degressive three year aid paid per passenger and per take-off and landing. The total aid is estimated at more than EUR 1 million per airline, capped at a maximum of 50 per cent of the annual eligible costs and 30 per cent of the total eligible costs. Eligible costs include marketing, advertising and installation costs. Aid will only be granted if the air carrier provides a business plan demonstrating that the new route will be viable and will not compete with existing routes or high speed rail links.
State Aid: Current Regime for Film and TV Production Maintained
The European Commission has extended the application of the current State aid rules (laid down in 2001) to cinematographic and other audiovisual works until 31 December 2009. Public support must meet four specific criteria to be approved by the Commission as cultural aid: (i) the aid must benefit a cultural product; (ii) the producer must be free to spend at least 20 per cent of the production budget in other Member States (Commission aims to limit territorial restrictions); (iii) the aid must be limited to 50 per cent of the production budget (except for low budget films) and (iv) aid supplements for specific film-making activities are not allowed.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 18 June – Friday 22 June 2007
General Affairs and External Relations Council (18 – 19 June 2007)
European Council (21 – 22 June 2007)
COURT OF JUSTICE
Environment and consumers
C-259/05 Omni Metal Service
C-173/05 Commission v Italy
C-158/06 Stichting ROM-projecten
Joined Cases C-231/06, C-232/06, C-233/06 Jonkman
C-366/05 Optimus - Telecomunicações
Free movement of goods
C-221/06 Stadtgemeinde Frohnleiten and Gemeindebetriebe Frohnleiten
C-319/05 Commission v Germany
C-273/04 Poland v Council
C-251/06 Ing. Auer
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
T-246/99 Tirrenia di Navigazione and Others v Commission