Victory in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
On May 1, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial and reversed the grant of a preliminary injunction directed to advertising by Dowd Bennett client Anheuser-Busch on the issue of corn syrup. The district court had denied an injunction of Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl LIII advertising but preliminarily enjoined certain packaging materials under the Lanham Act. In resolving the parties’ interlocutory appeals, the Seventh Circuit observed that plaintiff Molson Coors “identifies corn syrup as an ‘ingredient’ in Miller Lite and Coors Light” and that “[b]y choosing a word such as ‘ingredients’ with multiple potential meanings, Molson Coors brought this problem on itself.” Molson Coors Beverage v. Anheuser-Busch, 957 F.3d 837, 839 (7th Cir. 2020). The Court agreed with Anheuser-Busch that “it is not ‘false or misleading’ (§ 1125(a)(1)) for a seller to say or imply, of a business rival, something that the rival says about itself.” The Court concluded that “[l]itigation should not be a substitute for competition in the market.”
The Seventh Circuit’s decision was recognized by Law360, in its midyear report, as one of the top trademark rulings of 2020. Dowd Bennett attorneys Jim Bennett and Caitlin O’Connell represented Anheuser-Busch on appeal.