January 2018. Aldi can go ahead with the sale of its Buval beer after the Brussels Court of Appeal concluded in December 2017 that it was not infringing the trademark rights of rival brewer Inbev’s Jupiler beer.

Colours and animal figures are ‘universals’

The Court concluded that there was no risk of public confusion between the two beers since the (different) word elements were more striking than the (similar-looking) images. It added that Jupiler and Buval were moreover dissimilar in appearance, and the red and black colours on both were commonly used for beer products (see also Cristal, Chimay and De Koninck). The same applied to the use of shields and animals, both of which were frequently used to denote beer brands.

Brussels Court of Appeal says red and black are both commonly used for beer products

Jupiler + Duvel = Buval?

The District Court in Brussels initially concluded in 2016 that Aldi had infringed Inbev’s trademark rights. That ruling has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal. So it’s swings and roundabouts. We also think that ‘Buval’ sounds a bit like a combination of two iconic Belgian beer brands: Jupiler + Duvel. But that’s irrelevant as far as trademark law’s concerned…

Bas Kist