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Sudsy brouhaha to court: Miller sues Bud Light

NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- A brewery brouhaha has shifted from the ad room to the courtroom.

Miller Brewing Company filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee District Court Friday against Anheuser-Busch, claiming the rival beer-maker defaced its products and "engaged in false or misleading advertising activities."

Miller spokesman Mike Hennick claimed that Bud Light stickers were placed on packages of Miller Lite. In a meeting held Thursday with a Milwaukee federal judge and the two companies, Hennick said that Busch had agreed to investigate and immediately stop any defacing of Miller's products -- if its company employees are actually behind the alleged activity.

Miller also accused the St.Louis-based brewery of publishing misleading advertisements that claimed Miller is based in South Africa. One ad that appeared in the May 20 edition of USA Today showed a bottle of Miller Lite with the phrase: "Miller Lite - Queen of Carbs, South African owned," next to it. Hennick said the ad was misleading because SAB Miller is based in London, and South African-based Miller Brewing is only a subsidiary of the company.

Miller has launched an aggressive ad campaign in recent months, touting its product as the "President of Beers." One ad features a mock presidential debate with a top Miller official going up against a Clydesdale, the horse made famous by Budweiser.

Anheuser-Busch has fought back by reverting to a classic: The lizards in the swamp. In one ad, one of the lizards notes Miller's South African roots, making it ineligible for the presidency.

South African Breweries Plc
Distillers and Brewers

Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Francis Katz said the company is simply responding to Miller's "President of Beers" ads.

"All we did was point out that they were South African owned," Katz said. "Apparently, for whatever reason, they are very sensitive about their heritage, and they have chosen to take this matter to court."

According to the Miller Web site, South African Breweries purchased Miller Brewing Company in July 2002, "forming one of the largest brewers in the world, called SABMiller plc, with a volume of more than 130 million barrels, operations in 40 countries and hundreds of brands."

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