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Miller Drops 'Carbs' Fight Against A-B

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CHICAGO Miller Brewing said it has ceased its legal challenge to Anheuser-Busch ad efforts that label Miller Lite the "Queen of Carbs."

A hearing on Miller's request for a preliminary injunction against A-B was set for June 29. Miller said that it has decided the court case was "an unnecessary distraction."

Miller had filed for an injunction late last month, in part arguing that A-B's "Queen of Carbs" designation was misleading and denigrating. In dropping its court case, Miller said its market research has shown that A-B's ads have not adversely affected Miller Lite sales.

"Everything we've been seeing so far indicates that the damage being done is probably to Bud" in terms of tarnishing A-B's own image, said Mike Jones, senior vice president, general counsel at Miller. "We're very interested in getting our full attention back on selling beer."

A-B said it was pleased with Miller's decision to drop the injunction over the "Queen of Carbs" claim.

"We do not feel that lawsuits and injunctions are the way to compete in the marketplace," said Bob Lachky, vice president brand management and director of global creative at A-B. "We agree it's time to get back to selling beer."

Lachky said A-B will continue to point out in ads that Miller was bought by South African breweries, having found that "this has been resonating with consumers."

A-B also downplayed Miller's claims of strong sales growth for Miller Lite.

Miller's injunction request also asked the courts to stop A-B from making what Miller considered false statements about its ownership.

A federal Judge on May 28 ordered A-B to stop referring to Miller as "owned by South African Breweries" in ads, but allowed the brewer to continue to state that Miller was "purchased by South African Breweries" and is "South African owned" in its ads.

Miller is continuing its case on the ownership issue, which along with its accusations that A-B distributors were placing defamatory stickers on its product, are subject to further court hearings, a Miller representative said.

Miller was purchased by South African Breweries, but the company created by the deal, SABMiller, is based in London.