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 Friday, 27 December, 2002, 12:12 GMT
Interbrew challenges HSBC slogan
Belgian brewer Interbrew is taking HSBC to court over its use of the slogan "The world's local bank".

Interbrew claims the banking group's phrase is too similar to its own motto, "The world's local brewer", which it introduced in 1999.

Interbrew, maker of Becks, Boddingtons and Stella Artois beer, told BBC News Online that it had copyrighted the phrase and would challenge any company using a version that was too comparable.

HSBC says it will fight the case, insisting there is no reason for any confusion on the part of customers.

Bank or brewer?

Interbrew has filed lawsuits in Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

I'm sure most people will be able to tell the difference between a branch of HSBC and a pint of Stella

HSBC

The brewer told BBC News Online it considered the phrase to be its own intellectual property because "it describes exactly what we do".

A spokesman for the group said HSBC was "abusing this slogan".

"If we see other companies use it, it will lead to a dilution of the power of that slogan," said the spokesman.

But HSBC, which adopted its phrase 12 months ago, retaliated by suggesting there was little room for confusion between the two slogans.

"I'm sure most people will be able to tell the difference between a branch of HSBC and a pint of Stella," a spokesman for the bank told BBC News Online.

"We don't believe there is any case for confusion."

Courtroom regular

Interbrew is no stranger to the courtroom.

Earlier this year it took legal action against five newspapers, including The Times, Financial Times and The Independent.

The brewer wanted to force journalists to hand over false documents regarding a supposed takeover of South African Breweries, but withdrew its case in July.

Last year, the brewer also appealed against the government's decision to force it to sell Bass Brewers, following its acquisition of Bass brewing group.

Interbrew won only a minor concession, and was forced to sell the Carling brewing business.

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