Heineken Fires Back at AB InBev in Battle Over Beer Keg Rights

(Bloomberg) -- Heineken NV has struck back against Anheuser-Busch InBev as the brewing giants’ battle over recyclable beer dispensers escalates.

Heineken, the world’s second largest beer brewer after AB InBev, retaliated against its competitor and filed a complaint Thursday with the International Trade Commission that seeks to block imports of products that use their patented dispensing line.

In January, AB InBev claimed that Heineken copied its bag-in-bottle beer dispensers, infringed four U.S. patents, and had a policy to “copy and call it innovatgeion.” Heineken has fired back, claiming that Ab InBev actually copied its dispensing line design that has been protected by a patent since 2004, when BeerTender, a dispenser that used a returnable keg with a beer-in-bag container, was first released.

“Heineken believes ABI’s Nova draught system infringes upon our patents on kegs with a particular dispensing line. As such, we felt the need to defend and protect our intellectual property,” Danya Adelman, Heineken’s communications manager, said in an emailed statement.

The complaint filed in January by AB InBev sought to block imports of Heineken’s Brewlock, Blade and Torp/Sub dispensing systems, which were created to allow smaller bars to imitate the taste of draft beer without having to install taps.

The company has argued that maintaining exclusive rights over its dispensing line doesn’t implicate public safety and welfare concerns.

Heineken, with operations in New York, noted that they were in the process of making “significant domestic investments in plant and equipment.” The complaint urged the protection of their products for the benefit of domestic U.S. industry.

Separately, Heineken announced Friday that it paying $3.1 billion for a 40 percent stake in the parent of China Resources Beer Holdings Co., China’s top brewer, as it continues a bid to challenge AB InBev’s top position in the world’s biggest market.

The case is In The Matter of Certain Beverage Dispensing Systems and Components Thereof, Complaint No. 3331, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington)

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