Legal tensions between Anheuser-Busch (A-B) and MillerCoors escalated on Thursday, after A-B filed a complaint with the federal court claiming MillerCoors stole “trade secrets,” including the recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
The nation’s two largest brewers have been embroiled in a legal battle since March, when MillerCoors filed a lawsuit against A-B for false and misleading advertising relating to the use of corn syrup in beer production. The public and ongoing tensions, referred to here as “Corntroversy,” and elsewhere as “Corngate,” have continued throughout the year.
On Thursday, Anheuser-Busch filed a “heavily redacted 66-page amended complaint and counterclaim” with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Brewbound reports.
According to A-B, former employees Martin David Brooks and Josh Edgar, who now work for MillerCoors, “shared confidential trade secrets” and/or “sought information from current employees about the making of A-B products.”
In a media statement, A-B said: “Today, we filed in federal court claims alleging that MillerCoors violated state and federal law by misappropriating our trade secrets, including our beer recipes … We take our trade secrets seriously and will protect them to the fullest extent of the law.”
Reacting to the accusations, Adam Collins, MillerCoors VP of communications and community affairs, said A-B was “trying to distract from the basic fact that they intentionally misled American consumers.”
“MillerCoors respects confidential information and takes any contrary allegations seriously, but if the ingredients are a secret, why did they spend tens of millions of dollars telling the entire world what’s in Bud Light?” Collins wrote.
The battle shows no sign of cooling any time soon, but reactions on social media have been lukewarm.
“That’s like saying that Burger King is accusing McDonald’s of stealing its burger recipe,” one Twitter user wrote. Half dozen of one, six of the other.