MISSOULA, Mont. - Anheuser-Busch is firing back over allegations it's improperly using a phrase in online advertisements trademarked by Missoula's Big Sky Brewing Company. The craft brewer is suing the largest beer company in the world, claiming that its Bud Light YouTube videos are a violation of its trademarked slogan "Hold my beer and watch this." The suit was filed December 20.
Anheuser-Busch has published three videos on Bud Light's YouTube page showing humorous scenarios that could happen after someone tells someone else to hold their beer. The videos were created by actor John Krasinski, of NBC's 'The Office,' and his business partner Danny Stessen. They've racked up millions of views and are still online.
Big Sky's suit claims the phrase "Hold my beer and watch this," was trademarked by the company back in 2009, and has appeared on cans and merchandise.
In an emailed statement, an Anheuser-Busch rep sent this message from Rob McCarthy, the Vice President of Bud Light marketing: "These humorous Bud Light videos explore the unexpected things that could happen when you ask someone to hold your beer. 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."
When NBC Montana asked for comment from Big Sky's president Neal Leathers, we received this emailed response: "We are not commenting on this issue at this time as we are working to reach an agreement with AB."
Big Sky is asking for an unspecified amount in damages. Anheuser-Busch's US headquarters are in St. Louis, and it claims nearly 50 percent of the United States' beer market.
Big Sky makes craft beers like Trout Slayer and Moose Drool, and the company says it's the country's 50th largest brewer. Big Sky's beers are sold at stores in 24 states.