Anheuser-Busch sued over YouTube videos
ST. LOUIS — A Montana-based craft brewer is suing the world's largest beer maker, alleging that popular YouTube videos for Bud Light violate its trademarked phrase, “Hold my beer and watch this.”
Big Sky Brewing Co. filed its lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont. The company says it has used the slogan since at least 2004 and has a trademark.
At issue are three videos on Bud Light's official YouTube site by actor John Krasinski, best known for playing Jim Halpert on NBC's The Office, and his business partner, Danny Stessen. The videos depict odd things that might happen after asking someone to hold your beer. In one, a woman celebrating her 100th birthday feigns death after asking a young man to hold her beer, then after the man and his friends leave, she high-fives and laughs with another elderly woman.
The videos debuted about a month ago and, as of Tuesday, had nearly 5 million views. The videos are only online.
Big Sky's lawsuit includes photos of cans of one of its brews, the back reading “Hold my beer and watch this.” The suit, filed on Dec. 20, seeks unspecified damages.
Neal Leathers, president of Big Sky and one of the founders, said the Missoula-based company is “engaged in negotiations with Anheuser-Busch to try and get this resolved. Until something's actually been resolved, we're just sort of taking the no-comment route.”
An Anheuser-Busch official, in an emailed statement, stood behind the videos.
“These humorous Bud Light videos explore the unexpected things that could happen when you ask someone to hold your beer,” said Rob McCarthy, vice president of Bud Light marketing. “There is no trademark use of the phrase ‘Hold my beer and watch this,' nor is there intent to create any association with Big Sky. Countless other videos and jokes use the same or similar words as a punch line or hashtag.”
InBev, of Belgium, purchased Anheuser-Busch in 2008, but the company retained St. Louis as U.S. headquarters. The company makes several top-selling beers, including Bud Light and Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch InBev commands 47.6 percent of the U.S. beer market.
Big Sky offers several craft beers with such names as “Moose Drool,” “Trout Slayer” and “Slow Elk.” The company website says it is the nation's 50th largest brewer, with sales of about 45,000 barrels of beer in 2012. Big Sky brews are sold in 24 states.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McDonald’s localizes menus to battle growing competition
- Airlines offer small conveniences to counter higher fees, less space
- Aetna to buy rival Humana for $35B
- Consider these factors before opting for longer-term auto loan
- Longer, roomier, ritzier Sedona upgrades minivan to 1st-class
- National Day Calendar lends legitimacy to pseudo-holidays
- Critics find hotels’ hidden fees to be inhospitable
- Air control stickiness a real puzzler
- Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%
- Obama overtime proposal slammed