Hungarian gov't could ban Heineken's Red Star logo over communism concerns

The Hungarian government is planning to implement a law that would ban all symbols that refer to Nazi occupation or communist suppression, which according to them, includes the red star on Heineken's logo. This means that Heineken may be forced to change its label in Hungary, RTL Nieuws reports.

According to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban's right-wing government, it is their "moral obligation" to ban the commercial use of such symbols. In addition to Heineken's red star, this also includes the swastika and the hammer and sickle. Should the law take effect, any companies that still use these symbols can be fined up to 2 billion forints (6.5 million euros) and face prison time. 

The Hungarian government and Heineken have been at loggerheads for some time now, according to RTL. Orban accused Heineken of being "anti-Hungary" after the Dutch brewer won a lawsuit in Romania. In the lawsuit the court forbade a Romanian brewer with a Hungarian brand name to use the name "Csiki", because it is too similar to Heineken's "Ciuc". According to the Hungarian government's chief of staff, this ruling was clearly a move by the Romanian government against Hungarian organizations and symbols. It is at this point that Heineken also fell out of Orban's favor.

According to RTL, the red star ban thereby seems suspiciously like retaliation. 

Heineken started using the red star logo in the 1930's, Reuters reports. After World War II the red star was changed to a white star with a red border. Over time the red border was made wider. In 1991 Heineken went back to the all red star. 

The Dutch brewer is confident that its logo will not be banned, Heineken said to RTL in reaction. According to the company, the star represents the various parts in the brewing process. "The star is an old brewer's symbol", Heineken said. "The points of the star stood for the four natural ingredients and the fifth point for the unknown magic of beer brewing." It holds no political significance, the company emphasized. "We are keeping a close eye on this matter and we have every confidence in a good outcome."


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