Heineken, Transylvanian craft brewery make peace


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The Romanian unit of Dutch brewing giant Heineken and Lixid Project, owner of Csíki Sör Manufaktúra, the Transylvanian microbrewery that produces Csíki beer, said on Monday they intend to settle their ongoing dispute over the use of the Csíki and Ciuc beer brands, just days after Hungarian government representatives interceded on behalf of the craft brewery.   

As part of the settlement, Heineken Romania consents to the coexistence of the Csíki and Heineken-owned Ciuc brand names and agrees to allow Lixid Project to market the Csíki brand, the parties said in a joint statement published on social media.   

"As a result of this agreement, both parties will abandon all legal activities related to the commercial dispute," according to the statement. "The settlement involves compromises on both sides and it allows both companies to continue building their relationship with their consumers, employees, business partners and the local community. Both companies now look forward to leaving their past differences behind them and focusing on what they do best and enjoy most: brewing beer."

In a separate statement, Lixid Project thanked its supporters, consumers, the local community, "and, last but not least, the Hungarian government."

In January, a Romanian court upheld a ruling prohibiting the microbrewery from marketing its product as Igazi Csíki Sör (Real Csíki Beer) because Heineken already owns the locally brewed "Ciuc" brand, which means "Csíki" in Romanian. After the court decision, Lixid Project had started marketing its product as Tiltott Igazi Sör (which translates as Banned Real Beer).

State news wire MTI notes that the dispute over the name had boiled down to the court needing to weigh whether the legal protection enjoyed by a product with a Romanian name extends to its commonly used name in Hungarian. The Dutch multinational has owned the beer brand Ciuc premium since 2003, which Transylvanian Hungarians have commonly referred to as Csíki beer. In November 2014, however, a new craft beer produced by Csíki Sör Manufaktúra appeared on the market under the name Igazi Csíki Sör, for which the producer Lixid Project obtained both Romanian and European legal rights. 

As of Monday evening, the MTI report made no mention of the progress of the other ongoing dispute between the Hungarian government and Heineken over the latterʼs continuing use of a red star in its brand logo. Critics have objected to the red star because of its association with communism, despite the fact that Heineken has used the symbol in its present form for a quarter of a century.

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