Belgian brewers sue Coors

Confederation claims 'Belgian White' confuses consumers, damages Belgian brands

Nov 19, 1999 - The Confederation des Brasseries de Belgique has filed suit against Coors Brewing Co. It charges that the Colorado brewing company is misleading the American public into believing that Blue Moon Belgian White is brewed in Belgium instead of the United States.


Blue Moon Brewing Co. is a subsidiary of Coors and Coors makes those beers in Colorado and Tennessee breweries.

The CBB said it has asked Coors to voluntarily alter its labels, but Coors refused. The CBB said it filed the action to "protect the goodwill of genuine Belgian beer."

The CBB further asserts that Coors has damaged the market for authentic Belgian beer and is seeking an injunction to prevent Coors from "falsely and deceptively" labeling and advertising its beer as originating from Belgium.

The CBB is asking the court to stop Coors from labeling Belgian White as Belgian or use it as a trademark. The suit also asks that Coors pay for an advertising campaign that corrects any wrong impressions and award punitive damages to the confederation.

The CBB complained about the Belgian White last year to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which regulates beer labels. Coors responded by adding the letters "U.S.A." and the phrase "Belgian-style" to the bottle. The wording, however, is small and no changes were made to the six-pack carton or the advertising, said Bart Lazar, a lawyer representing the CBB.

A few years ago, Trappist monks in Belgium that brew beer asked Fort Collins-based New Belgium to drop the word "Trappist" from its Abbey Trappist-style ale, said New Belgium spokesman Greg Owsley.

"We were happy to oblige," he said. "We switched to the word Belgian-style. We attach the word style whenever we use the word Belgium."

New Belgium sold 105 barrels of beer in 1998, compared to the 23,000 of Belgian beer imported to the United States.

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