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Anheuser-Busch Calls Foul, Sues Major League Baseball

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By Jason Beahm on November 16, 2010 9:01 AM

Anheuser-Busch has sued Major League Baseball Properties over the right to exclusive beer sponsorship. Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser, alleges that the MLBP reneged on an agreement to re-up exclusive sponsorship rights. They allege that the MLBP has now backtracked and is demanding more money. Anheuser-Busch is a unit of Belgium-owned Anhueser-Busch InBev, NV, but has continued aggressively targeting America sports sponsorships. Anheuser-Busch is the official beer sponsor for 26 of the league's 30 teams.

Anheuser-Busch alleges that the MLBP reneged on the deal after it learned that the brewer was announcing a sponsorship deal with the National Football League. In a $1.2 billion dollar deal, Bud Light will be the official beer of the NFL in 2011, replacing Coors Light of MillerCoors LLC. Anheuser-Busch is seeking a court declaration enforcing the alleged April MLBP agreement.

"Anheuser-Busch has spent decades, and millions of dollars, building the reputation and goodwill of Budweiser and the other Anheuser-Busch brands with these fans," the lawsuit said. "Their loss would be unquantifiable."

Anheuser-Busch admits that a full contact was never signed. But they allege that an agreement was reached in April by letter. They claim to have a fax confirming the deal from an MLBP employee that says: "We are excited about the extension of this amazing partnership. Congratulations partner!!"

Will the court consider it a contract? It's certainly an interesting question. Most day-to-day contract situations are straightforward. However in cases like this one, an in-depth analysis is required. Check out "Will Your Contract Be Enforced Under the Law?" in FindLaw's resources.

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