Dirty beer brand threatens to give Austrian town a bad name

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The Independent Online

British souvenir hunters have cashed in on the market value of "Fucking" for years. The rural Austrian town of that unfortunate name has had so many of its signs stolen by sniggering English-speaking tourists that it now embeds them in concrete as a matter of course.

But much to the mayor's dismay, "Fucking" will soon be part of the brand name of a new German beer which has just been given full European Union approval. So prepare to sup a pint of "Fucking Hell".

The German brand name's owners point out that the German word "Hell" means "light" when used in conjunction with beer. But they may have underestimated the likely effects of the brand name in Britain where vexed bar staff could soon be facing orders along the lines of: "A pint of Fucking, half a Fucking shandy and a packet of cheese and onion please."

The prospect of the F-word being used routinely in pubs across the British Isles at both opening and closing times has come to pass thanks to the EU's Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office. Yesterday it rejected a complaint that the brand name "Fucking Hell" was upsetting and derogatory.

"The word combination contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons. Nor does it incite a particular act. It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell," the office proclaimed. "Neither can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner, merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages," it added.

The ruling is a victory for the German marketing executives Stefan Fellenberg and Florian Krause who are the brand name's owners. In a statement released yesterday, they said they would use the name to market a number of products "including beer amongst other things". It said the new beer would be put on the market in September but did not say whether there were plans to export it to the UK.

However the project has unnerved Franz Meindl, the mayor of the Austrian Fucking, not least because his town has no brewery. According to Austrian media reports he is also not aware of any plans to build one.

He has admitted that the new beer might give his town some additional notoriety, but said that was the last thing he needed after years fighting against the theft of town signs.

"Twelve of the thirteen signs have been stolen. We've taken to fixing them with concrete, welding and rivets," he said.

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