By Micah Maidenberg
A federal judge expanded a preliminary injunction that forbids Anheuser-Busch Cos. from using advertising that suggests there is corn syrup in some of MillerCoors LLC's beers but none in its Bud Light brand.
The expanded injunction will now also cover claims on packaging, in addition to television, billboard and print marketing, according to an order dated Wednesday by Judge William Conley of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Judge Conley also said in the order that Anheuser-Busch may use about 69.5 million Bud Light packages, valued at $27.7 million, that use "no corn syrup" language and have a related graphic about that ingredient printed on them.
But Anheuser-Busch must use packaging containing the corn syrup messaging that it had on hand as of June 6 or until March 2 next year, according to Judge Conley's order, whichever occurs first.
"After that date, however, defendant shall remove the 'no corn syrup' language and icon from its packaging until resolution of this case or the preliminary injunction is lifted," Judge Conley wrote.
MillerCoors sued Anheuser-Busch in March, claiming in the suit an ad campaign from its competitor that tied Miller Lite and Coors Light to corn syrup was false and misleading.
The company said then the marketing deceives consumers "into believing that there is corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup" in those two brands.
"We look forward to defending our right to inform beer drinkers of this fact at trial and on appeal," a spokesman for Anheuser-Busch, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (BUD), said in a statement.
"We are holding Bud Light accountable for its actions," Gavin Hattersley, Chief Executive of MillerCoors, said in a statement.
MillerCoors is the U.S. business for Canada brewer Molson Coors Brewing.
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