ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
antitrust
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ABI/SAB Miller Deal: DOJ Clarifies Best Efforts Clause in Proposed Final Judgment

As most members of the alcohol and beverage industry are aware, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) acquired the global holdings of SABMiller in a more than $100 billion merger in October 2016. The Department of Justice (DOJ) required ABI to divest SABMiller’s United States business, including its ownership interest in MillerCoors. Since November 2016, the parties have engaged in ongoing briefing seeking approval of a Proposed Final Judgment (PFJ) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. A key question in the latest round of briefing was the meaning of “best efforts” language in the PFJ. The PFJ states that “nothing in this Final Judgment shall prohibit Defendant ABI from entering into or enforcing an agreement with any Independent Distributor requiring the Independent Distributor to use best efforts to sell, market, advertise, or promote Defendant ABI’s Beer, which may be defined as efforts designed to achieve and maintain the highest practicable sales...

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Supreme Court’s 2014-15 Term: Antitrust Case May Impact the Activities of Alcohol Industry Public/Private Organizations

On October 14, 2014, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case that could have significant implications for hybrid public/private “regulatory” bodies.  Many such bodies, like state and local wine commissions, operate in the alcohol beverage space. In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, 717 F.3d 359 (4th Cir. 2013), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the actions of a state’s Board of Dental Examiners (Board) were subject to antitrust scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  North Carolina clothes the Board with considerable authority to enforce the state’s laws concerning the unauthorized practice of dentistry by non-licensed persons.  The majority of the Board, however, consists of practicing dentists and dental hygienists. The case arose from the Board’s actions to stop non-licensed persons from offering “teeth whitening” services within the state.  Seemingly responding to...

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Local Wholesaler-Retailer Dispute Has Federal Implications

On August 14, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi issued an opinion finding that state regulations bolstered one antitrust claim and hindered another in an ongoing dispute between a northern Mississippi convenience store chain, Major Mart, and an Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI, a/k/a “Red Network”) distributor, Mitchell Distributing Company. In Mississippi, by statute, like those of many other states, beer manufacturers must designate exclusive sales territories for each brand.  Mitchell holds the exclusive right to sell ABI brands to retailers in the counties in which Major Mart operates its 11 convenience stores. The relationship between Mitchell and Major Mart started to break down in 2010, when Major Mart claimed that it was receiving inaccurate and confusing price information from Mitchell.  Major Mart asked Mitchell for compensation of lost profits due to the incorrect pricing information.  Mitchell denied the request, and Major...

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