Ridout Barron


Argument over beer distribution set for hearing

Beer drinkers in Alberta might be interested in an extended fight between Miller Brewing Co. and Molson Coors Canada over the rights to distribute Miller Genuine Draft. Molson is charged with distributing the product throughout the Canadian market, but Miller wants to discontinue the agreement.

Miller's distribution agreement with Molson dates back decades and gives Molson exclusive Canadian distribution rights for the popular beverage. When Miller submitted the official notice to terminate the arrangement January 2013, Molson obtained a temporary injunction in July 2013 so that the case could be heard in court. Miller claims that they have the right to terminate the contract because Molson failed to reach preset sales goals between 2010 and 2012. Molson countered that those goals were supposed to be up for renegotiation and claimed that losing the distribution rights for Miller Genuine Draft would cause serious damage to its business.

The case was scheduled for trial in December 2013, but the companies sat down to work out a settlement. They have since failed to come to a resolution, and the case was scheduled to be heard in Ontario Superior Court. In a statement released by both companies on Tuesday, April 15, they confirmed that they are seeking a court-ordered verdict to settle the case. Even as the Canadian dispute continues, the two companies continue their partnership in the U.S., which allows them to compete more effectively with the popular Anheuser Busch brand.

Business and commercial law can involve complex legal matters, and negotiations can become contentious when an agreement involves distributions rights to a popular product. A business lawyer could clarify the rights of a company when they try to negotiate the end of a contract with another entity.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Molson-Miller dispute over Genuine Draft headed to court ", Richard Blackwell, April 15, 2014

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