Judge Rules for Labatt in NHL Sponsorship Battle

TORONTO, ON – In a ruling issued on Friday evening, the Ontario Superior Court ruled in favour of Labatt Breweries in regards to a suit the company filed in late February against Molson-Coors Canada over a sponsorship deal the latter company signed earlier that month with the National Hockey League.

According to the Toronto Star, the judge agreed with Labatt’s assertion that it already had a deal in place with the NHL before the League agreed to a massive $375-million sponsorship deal with the other megabrewer.

From the ruling:

In my view the NHL should not be entitled to profit from its breach of its agreement with Labatt. Labatt should be entitled to its bargain and to its unique marketing position resulting from the agreement to be the Canadian sponsor of the NHL for the next three years. In my view, there should be an injunction preventing the NHL and Molson from proceeding with their agreement so far as the Canadian rights are concerned.

Labatt followed the ruling with a statement indicating pleasure with the decision, saying that the company is looking forward to “a very productive relationship with the league through the 2013-14 season”.

Neither Molson-Coors nor the NHL have released any statement at time of writing.

UPDATE (June 6th, 2011): The Canadian Press is reporting that Molson and the NHL are planning to appeal the court ruling, with Molson Coors president and CEO Dave Perkson describing it as an “unfortunate surprise,” and NHL deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stating that the league plans to “pursue an appeal of the ruling on an expedited basis.”

2 thoughts on “Judge Rules for Labatt in NHL Sponsorship Battle

  1. You’re right, this story has nothing to do with “real, craft beer”. And perhaps that would matter if the mandate of this website was to cover news exclusively from craft breweries.

    But it’s not. The name of the site is Canadian Beer News, not Canadian Craft Beer News, and the About page states clearly that CBN is “dedicated exclusively to coverage of Canada’s beer industry,” with the word “craft” appearing nowhere in that statement.

    I apologize if the combination of news about breweries of different sizes offends your “craft beer geek” sensibilities, but many other readers seem to appreciate the depth and breadth of the coverage this site offers.

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