Beer Is Now Officially the Most Litigious Category in Sponsorship
If there was any doubt that beer has become the most litigious sponsorship category in sports, MillerCoors put that to rest today with a brand new lawsuit filed in Massachusetts Superior Court. MillerCoors is suing the NFL's New England Patriots, claiming the franchise reneged on an exclusive deal in the beer category, CNBC reported Monday.
MillerCoors claims the Patriots signed a deal that would extend the 10-year-old relationship through 2019. Then, according to the suit, the Patriots backed out and instead came to an exclusive agreement with Anheuser Busch InBev, CNBC said.
"We expect to win, and when we win we will be a great partner to the Patriots," MillerCoors representative Jackie Woodward told CNBC. "We appreciate competition, but we respect the integrity of a deal above all else."
A Patriots spokesman has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
Of course, this isn't the first time, this year even, that beer giants have clashed over rights to a North American sports property. In November of last year, Anheuser-Busch filed a lawsuit against MLB claiming that the league reneged on an agreement after learning of the brewer's new deal with the NFL. That settlement was followed up by a mammoth fight between Molson and Labatt over NHL sponsorship rights, which ended this summer after six months of legal wrangling when a judge awarded Molson the right to spend $375 million over the next seven years with the National Hockey League. What other categories that you know of have racked up legal fees like this?
Of course, those were at the league level, not the team. It will be interesting to see how this round plays out on the local stage, but a bigger question is why are brewers and properties having such a hard time getting along these days? What's your take?