A case that started with a Super Bowl commercial may have ended with a pointed decision from a federal appeals court essentially telling two beer giants to take the fight outside.
The decision from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will allow Anheuser-Busch to continue running its Bud Light ads pointing to the connection between corn syrup and Molson Coors' rival products Coors Light and Miller Lite.
Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook, writing for the court, said whether the presence of an ingredient – corn syrup, in this case – is “good because it improves flavor (Miller and Coors’s take) or bad (Bud’s) is for consumers rather than the judiciary to decide.
“If Molson Coors does not like the sneering tone of Anheuser-Busch’s ads, it can mock Bud Light in return,” Easterbrook wrote. “Litigation should not be a substitute for competition in the market.”
Easterbrook also pointed to an online ingredient list for Miller Lite and Coors Light that listed corn syrup, to which Molson Coors contended corn syrup was used in the brewing process and was not present in the final product.
“By choosing a word such as ‘ingredients’ with multiple potential meanings, Molson Coors brought this problem on itself,” he wrote. He added that it is not false or misleading “to imply of a business rival something that the rival says about itself.”
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