KANSAS CITY — Judge William M. Conley, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, on Sept. 4 modified a May 24 preliminary injunction limiting the use of “no corn syrup” in Bud Light advertisements to include packaging.
The initial preliminary injunction prohibited Anheuser-Busch Companies, L.L.C. “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,” according to the court.
Judge Conley declined to include a decision on certain depictions and language on Anheuser-Busch packaging materials in his May 24 ruling because the argument then was not advanced in written preliminary injunction submissions by MillerCoors, L.L.C.
“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,” the court said.
Anheuser-Busch issued the following statement, “Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup — plain and simple. We look forward to defending our right to inform beer drinkers of this fact at trial and on appeal. MillerCoors is resisting consumer demands for transparency in the ingredients used to brew its beers, but those demands are here to stay. We will continue leading this movement in the beer industry.”
The case involves Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light ad campaign that noted the use of corn syrup by MillerCoors in brewing Coors Light and Miller Lite in commercials that initially aired Feb. 3 during Super Bowl LIII, along with certain later advertising. The Super Bowl ads generated significant pro and con traffic on social media and drew the ire of corn producers and the corn sweetener industry.
MillerCoors filed its lawsuit on March 21, claiming false and misleading claims and misuse of Miller and Coors trademarks in a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial and in part sought an injunction to stop Anheuser-Busch from running the Bud Light ad. Anheuser-Busch subsequently filed a motion for dismissal of MillerCoors’ lawsuit, which Judge Conly denied.