Knock It Off, Bud!

Big brewer forces Argentine wine brand to change name; children to benefit.

Budini, a value-oriented wine brand from Argentina that debuted in the United States with the 2002 vintage, is now being called Bodini, a change that came about after Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of the Budweiser brand, pressured Bodini’s importer with a cease-and-desist order, claiming the beer maker owns the trademark for all alcoholic beverages beginning with the letters BUD.

Rather than fight with Anheuser-Busch’s lawyers, something that Bodini importer Ed Lehrman, a partner in Sausalito, California-based Vine Connections, says would cost too much in time and capital, Vine Connections acquiesced to the brewer’s demands. “Other than the change of one letter, the wine remains the same…Bodini is now ‘Built On Dreams of Individuals Not Institutions,’ says Lehrman. “The fact that they (Anheuser-Busch) lay claim to these letters for all alcoholic beverages seems a little unfair considering the lack of consumer confusion in this case.”

Indeed, Vine Connections is importing 20,000 cases of Bodini 2010 Malbec and Chardonnay, two products that one would be hard-pressed to confuse with the King of Beers. Nonetheless, rather than racking up a mountain of legal fees, Lehrman agreed to make the change and use the money Vine Connections would have paid fighting the case on the Dominio del Plata Scholarship Foundation, which is dedicated to providing educational and recreational opportunities to the children of Bodini’s employees in Mendoza, where the wine comes from.

“We’ve spent 12 years working closely with Argentina’s top winemakers and wineries, and plan to be there for decades more,” says Lehrman. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to give back directly to the local community in Mendoza.”

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