Oct 07, 2011 at 12:47 PM
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Labatt Loses NHL Lawsuit

The legal battle surrounding Molson Coors blockbuster deal with the NHL may have finally found a resolution as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed Labatt's most recent lawsuit. Mr. Justice Geoffrey Morawetz said that the reasons behind the dismissal will be released at a later date.

The case hinges on the question of whether the NHL had a binding agreement with Labatt that pre-dated the $375 million deal with Molson, or whether Labatt and the NHL had simply agreed to terms, but did not yet have a binding agreement. In February, the court had ruled that the NHL and Labatt had reached a binding sponsorship agreement in November and that, as a result, the league wasn't free to enter into a similar deal with Molson. That judgement was overturned in July by Ontario's Court of Appeal on the basis that Labatt had reached 'Terms of Renewal', but had not reached a binding sponsorship agreement when the deal with Molson was announced. Today's decision seems to uphold that ruling.

"While we are surprised and disappointed by this outcome, Budweiser remains the favourite beer of hockey fans across Canada," said Charlie Angelakos, Labatt's Vice President, Corporate Affairs. "Budweiser is excited and privileged to continue to bring our enthusiasm for the greatest game in the world to Canadians from coast-to-coast. We just launched today our unique and exciting new Budweiser First Beeriod advertising campaign and we will reinforce our relationship with hockey through programs we've developed at both the grass roots and professional team levels in Canada during the 2011-2012 season."

The legal battle may have run its course, but look for both brewers to take their rivalry to the ice as the season gets under way. Starting this week, Labatt has become the sponsor of three Canadian NHL teams — the Vancouver Canucks, the Calgary Flames and the reformed Winnipeg Jets, while Labatt's corporate parent, Anheuser-Busch, currently sponsors 22 of the 24 NHL teams based in the United States.

"The fog has finally lifted with today's ruling," Dave Perkins, president and CEO of Moslon Coors Canada said. "It's now clear sailing ahead for our deal with the NHL."

photo credit #newstag