Lawyers for Anheuser-Busch and Labatt attempt to prevent Ontario's
largest craft brewer from using images of limes, the colour green and
Canadians in bathing suits
WATERLOO, ON, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - Brick Brewing Co. Limited (TSX: BRB)
announced today it has received a Statement of Claim from Anheuser-Busch,
Incorporated and Labatt Brewing Company Limited, claiming infringement of Bud
Light Lime trademarks and copyrights. Labatt and Anheuser are seeking an
injunction as well as damages or an accounting of profits from Brick's sales
of Red Baron Lime. Anheuser-Busch, Incorporated and Labatt Brewing Company
Limited are part of Anheuser-Busch InBev ("AB InBev"), the world's largest
Brazil's antitrust regulator recently imposed a record fine of US$176
million on AB InBev's Brazilian subsidiary, AmBev for anti-competitive
practices against small competitors. Brick Brewing, which launched its Red
Baron Lime beer earlier this month, intends to defend itself aggressively and
believes this is a Canadian example of AmBev's anti-competitive tactics.
"Getting hit with this nuisance suit is not unexpected, as Brick believes
it is a standard tactic used by large breweries worldwide to eradicate all
competition regardless of a brewer's size," said George Croft, President and
CEO of Brick Brewing. "But we're committed to take a stand on behalf of all
craft brewers in Ontario and Canada. Significant differences exist between
these brands - starting with a fair price that is nearly 25 percent less than
Bud Light Lime and the fact Red Baron Lime beer is made in Ontario - above
all, we believe consumers deserve to benefit from healthy competition."
Among claims made in this suit are that Brick's Red Baron Lime label uses
images of limes and the colour green, and that the www.lustforlime.com website
promoting Red Baron Lime, uses images of young people wearing swimsuits.
"Our decision to feature a lime on our label was motivated by the fact
that Red Baron Lime is a lime-flavoured beer, and green is of course, the
colour of limes," noted Croft. "We believe the fact that this premium beer is
priced under $10 for a 6-pack and is readily available is the real crux of the
matter, when they're asking consumers to pay import prices and have had
trouble supplying enough product to retailers."
According to the suit filed in Canada's Federal Court, Anheuser-Busch is
claiming infringement of Anheuser's Bud Light Lime beer trademarks,
depreciation of the goodwill associated with the Bud Light Lime marks and that
beer consumers are confused between Brick's Red Baron Lime beer and Anheuser's
Bud Light Lime beer.
Croft says Brick was cautious and diligent in its brand development
process, and is skeptical about alleged consumer confusion. Red Baron Lime,
which is only available at The Beer Store, typically has to be asked for by
customers at the front counter who must order it by name and not label.
The Red Baron brand has been part of the Brick Brewing family for more
than 20 years, and it was a natural line extension to offer a lime version.
Other regional brewers in Canada have also offered lime beer this summer.
These brewers also feature limes and use the colour green throughout the
packaging and marketing.
Brick Brewing's Red Baron underwent a label revamp and marketing push
early in the year, and increased its sales ten-fold. Brick has been relying on
funds it received from the provincial government's Ontario Craft Brewers
Opportunity Fund (OCBOF) to market its brands to Ontario consumers. The OCBOF
is a four-year, $8 million initiative available to licensed craft beer
producers with annual worldwide production of beer of 300,000 hectoliters or
"It's encouraging that the provincial government recognizes the
importance of a strong, vibrant, locally owned and operated Ontario Craft
brewing industry," said Croft." Unfortunately, unless there are some
safeguards to protect Ontario's craft brewers from spurious lawsuits, that
money won't be creating jobs and keeping our Ontario-based beer brewing
tradition healthy. We're in a war of attrition and in the end it's consumers
that get hurt when local choice is eradicated."
About Brick Brewing
Brick Brewing Co. Limited is Ontario's largest Canadian-owned and
Canadian-based publicly held brewery. The Company is a regional brewer of
award winning premium quality and value beers. The Company, founded in 1984,
was the first craft brewery to start up in Ontario, and is credited with
pioneering the present day craft-brewing renaissance in Canada. Brick has
complemented its Waterloo brand premium craft beers with other popular brands
such as Laker, Red Baron, Red Cap and Formosa Springs Draft. Brick trades on
the TSX under the symbol BRB. Visit us at www.brickbeer.com
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For further information:
For further information: Stephen Rouse, MAVERICK Public Relations Inc.,
Tel: (416) 402-6876; Annette Robertson, MAVERICK Public Relations Inc., Tel:
(416) 640-5525 Ext. 231