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Millercoors, LLC v. Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 4, 2019

MILLERCOORS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ANHEUSER-BUSCH COMPANIES, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE

         For reasons explained in an earlier opinion, this court entered a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendant Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC, from using misleading advertising to suggest that corn syrup is in plaintiff's Miller Lite and Coors Light beers, including emphasizing that corn syrup is not in its Bud Light beer in light of a massive advertising campaign intended to suggest just that to consumers. (5/24/19 Op. & Order (dkt. #57).) At the time, however, the court reserved on whether to extend that injunction to Bud Light's packaging because the focus of plaintiff's original motion for preliminary injunction was on television, bill board and print advertising, and the record was not developed sufficiently as to the question of package labeling. Following additional briefing and factual submissions by the parties, the court will now modify its preliminary injunction to cover packaging, but will allow defendant to sell products using the packaging it had on hand as of June 6, 2019, or until March 2, 2020, whichever occurs first.[1]

         FINDINGS OF FACTS

         A. Overview of Bud Light Packaging

          For beer, secondary packaging is the outer packaging that contains individual bottles and cans. For a 6-pack, 12-pack or 24-pack of Bud Light, the secondary packaging is the outer cardboard package that holds the bottles or cans. The following images reflect the current version of the packaging of the front and side panels of Bud Light's 6-pack of bottles:

         (Image Omitted)

(Reis Decl. (dkt. #60) ¶¶ 11 5-6.)

         MillerCoors points out the "no corn syrup" on the front and side panels, and the "see bottom panel" language on the side panels. The bottom panel also states "find out what's in your beer" and "learn more at: budlight.com." (Emphasis added.)

         (Image Omitted)

(Id. If 7.)

         Until June 3, 2019, the Bud Light website contained the following images:

         (Image Omitted)

(Id. If 27-28.) The first image states, "We believe you deserve to know what ingredients we put into our beer." (Emphasis added.)

         The prior injunction required compliance by June 3, and defendant represents that it changed the website ...


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