Heidelberg is a multi-brand beverage distributor. It’s in contract negotiations with the Teamsters, who began a publicity campaign in connection with the discussions, in which campaign the union refers to Heidelberg as ‘Budweiser’s Distributor.’ The union put up highway billboards that say: “Tell Budweiser Heidelberg’s Destruction of Ohio Jobs Is Tasteless.” From a distance (while driving on a highway), the signs read “Budweiser is Tasteless” (see above). Anheuser Busch now sues the union for trademark dilution and related torts, alleging that it doesn’t own or control Heidelberg, that Heidelberg is not A-B’s exclusive distributor, and that Bud has not been involved in the contract dispute (actually, getting A-B involved is the likely objective of the campaign).
So, with regard to dilution, is the union making trademark use? (see, e.g., Lamparello v. Falwell).
As for defamation, what statement should the court analyze? ‘Budweiser is Tasteless’ or ‘Tell Budweiser Heidelberg . . . ” or both?