Heineken fires back at AB InBev in battle over beer keg rights

By BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK • Heineken NV has struck back against Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) as the brewing giants’ battle over recyclable beer dispensers escalates.

Heineken, the world’s second- largest beer brewer after AB InBev, retaliated against its competitor and filed a complaint last Thursday with the International Trade Commission that seeks to block imports of products that use their patented dispensing line.

In January, AB InBev claimed that Heineken copied its bag-in-bottle beer dispensers, infringed four US patents and had a policy to “copy and call it innovation”. Heineken has fired back, claiming that AB InBev actually copied its dispensing line design that has been protected by a patent since 2004, when BeerTender, a dispenser that used a returnable keg with a beer-in-bag container, was first released.

“Heineken believes AB InBev’s Nova draught system infringes upon our patents on kegs with a particular dispensing line. As such, we felt the need to defend and protect our intellectual property,” Danya Adelman, Heineken’s communications manager, said in an emailed statement.

The complaint filed in January by AB InBev sought to block imports of Heineken’s Brewlock, Blade and Torp/Sub dispensing systems, which were created to allow smaller bars to imitate the taste of draft beer without having to instal taps.

The company has argued that maintaining exclusive rights over its dispensing line doesn’t implicate public safety and welfare concerns.