MillerCoors Takes Beer Battle With Anheuser-Busch to Court

(Bloomberg) -- The beer brawl has moved from TV to the courtroom.

MillerCoors LLC sued Anheuser-Busch InBev SA on Thursday, claiming the maker of Bud Light spent more than $13 million on a Super Bowl ad campaign designed to frighten people away from its Miller Lite and Coors Lite brands by deceiving them into thinking they’d be consuming corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup.

“To be clear, they will not,” MillerCoors said in a federal complaint filed in Madison, Wisconsin.

MillerCoors sued for false advertising and trademark dilution. The beer maker is seeking damages and an order barring Anheuser-Busch from airing misleading ads, including commercials referred to as “Special Delivery,” “Medieval Barbers,” “Trojan Horse,” “Mountain Folk,” “Cave Explorers,” and “Thespians Performing Beer Ingredients.”

MillerCoors, which was acquired by Molson Coors Brewing Co. after AB InBev took over rival SABMiller Plc in 2016, says Anheuser-Busch “singled out MillerCoors’ use of a common brewing fermentation aid, corn syrup,” to fool consumers who don’t know the difference between that and high-fructose corn syrup, a controversial sweetener used in soft drinks that’s been blamed for a surge in obesity.

“The recent Bud Light campaign is truthful and intended to point out a key difference from Miller Lite and Coors Light,” a spokeswoman for AB InBev said by email. “MillerCoors’ lawsuit is baseless and will not deter Bud Light from providing consumers with the transparency they demand.”

The case is MillerCoors LLC v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., 19-cv-218, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

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