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Labatt Sues Miller, Molson for Trademark Infringement

December 1, 1993

DETROIT (AP) _ Canadian brewer John Labatt Ltd. is suing rivals Miller Brewing Co. and Molson Breweries USA in U.S. District Court alleging trademark infringement over so-called ice beer products.

Toronto, Ontario-based Labatt says it filed for trademark protection for the ice brewing process and for the resulting product in November 1992. The application is pending.

″Competitors will not be permitted without challenge to misappropriate Labatt’s rights in this area where Labatt has demonstrated clear leadership and innovation,″ the company said.

In the suit filed Monday in Detroit, Labatt claims that Milwaukee-based Miller and Molson Breweries USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Miller, are guilty of unfair trade practices in the promotion of their ice beer products in the United States.

Labatt began exporting its ice beer the United States in October.

Miller spokeswoman Susan Henderson called the Labatt lawsuit without merit and ″a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the overwhelming, positive American consumer and retailer response to Molson Ice and Miller’s new ice beer, Icehouse.″

She said ice beer was first developed in Germany in the 19th Century and was known as ″Eisbock.″ Miller began selling Icehouse last summer.

Labatt spokesman Lorne Stephenson said his company is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Miller and Molson from selling their ice beers.

The court has not yet set a hearing date for the suit. Labatt filed a similar complaint against Molson of Canada in August.

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