Here’s a weird one for your Tuesday morning: The Lumbee Tribe, based in the great Tar Heel State, has filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement and “unfair and deceptive trade practices against Anheuser-Busch and R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Co. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.” If you’re keeping records: That lawsuit is captioned Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina v. Anheuser-Busch, LLC et al, Case No. 7:16-cv-00148-BO.
In classic Beer Voltron tradition, AB-InBev or, more accurately in this case, its distributors just kind of do what they damn well please. Apparently, the conglomerate’s local wholesaler created a bunch of advertisements for Budweiser and Bud Light which prominently include the Lumbee Tribe’s name, logo and “HERITAGE, PRIDE & STRENGTH” slogan as well as Tribe-related imagery. Why would you do that?
Look at the ad right here. Because of the ads, the Tribe has said people in the community have mistakenly believed that the Lumbee Tribe gave Jeffreys Distributing permission to use its name and trademarks to sell alcohol, which it did not. In fact, it’s fairly offensive because alcohol abuse is often associated with Native American culture.
Jeffreys, please apply palm to face firmly.
The suit seeks to obtain injunctive relief against Anheuser-Busch and the distributor, and to recover any profits the companies made through use of the logo and slogan. According to an article on the Consumerist.com:
A spokesperson for R.A. Jefferys says in a statement that the distributor has removed all of the advertisements after being informed on June 9 that the Lumbee Tribe objected to the use of its logo and slogan.
“In this matter, R.A. Jeffreys developed some point-of-sale advertising materials that were intended to honor the rich heritage of the Lumbee Tribe,” the rep said. “These materials were developed by R.A. Jeffreys without the involvement, input or knowledge of Anheuser-Busch.
“R.A. Jeffreys regrets any offense that may have been taken to the use of the materials in which the Lumbee Tribe claims an interest, and R.A. Jeffreys will not make any further use of such materials unless specifically permitted to do so by the Lumbee Tribe. R.A. Jeffreys values and respects the heritage of the communities in which its customers live and work.”
Well, we guess it’s about time for Beer Voltron and friends to move on to their next unscrupulous marketing campaign.