16 November 2004

Tastes Lousy—More Filling

The Budweiser trademark saga isn't over. It's not even close, even though the ECJ issued a decision in the Finnish lawsuit this morning. Before trying to jump in to an unusually poorly written decision—and, sad to say, that's against some pretty stiff competition from the ECJ—check out IPKat's helpful summary. What this basically means is that the Finnish court has been told that it does have to consider TRIPs in rendering its decision, and that TRIPs might mean that a mark-holder in the Czech brewer's posture (the original user of the mark, but neither the registrant nor most-famous user) can continue to use that mark in the face of adverse registration. What this ultimately means is that the idiots who drafted TRIPs should be fired, because disputes of this nature were not just predictable, but actually live, during the drafting of the treaty; but that's not likely to happen.

At least this time the convoluted, abstract "judgment" was issued in English. I remain uncertain of the actual reasons that the ECJ and its auxiliaries continue to neglect issuing opinions in English so frequently, given that the EU is coming closer and closer to a guerrilla trade war with the US that, I'm afraid to say, it can't win. It only undermines the ability of its own citizens to understand, protect, and assert their rights against the notoriously monolingual US business community—and this kind of arrogant disregard for clear communication occurs far too often in matters involving European subsidiaries of US corporations. I strongly suspect that one of the rationales for objecting to the US Supreme Court's recent trend toward noticing the existence of foreign and international law in its decisions is that so few lawyers (and/or their clients) are comfortable with the foreign-language origin of that foreign and international law—because they themselves do not have much, if any, familiarity with foreign languages beyond (perhaps) high-school Spanish.

<SARCASM> Of course, this particular dispute is irrational to begin with. The Czech brewery should no more want its product compared to the American "beer" sold under the Budweiser name than would a car manufacturer want its product compared to the Yugo. </SARCASM>