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Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Balducci Publications

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
28 F.3d 769 (1994)


Facts

Balducci Publications (Balducci) (defendant) published a humor magazine titled “Snicker.” Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (Busch) (plaintiff) operated a brewery, and produced Michelob beers. Busch also held a number of federally registered trademarks. These included: “Michelob,” “Michelob Dry,” the A & E Design, the bottle and label configuration of its beers, the vertical stripe design, the phrase “ONE TASTE AND YOU’LL DRINK IT DRY,” and the image of the vertical stripe with the A & E Eagle design. In 1989, Snicker included a mock advertisement on the back of its magazine for “Michelob Oily,” and the phrase “ONE TASTE AND YOU’LL DRINK IT OILY.” The ad also included the image of a can of Michelob Dry pouring oil on a fish with Busch’s A & E Eagle design soaked in oil. Balducci intentionally used actual images of Busch products for the products depicted in the Snicker ad. The ad also included a disclaimer in small text indicating that the ad was an editorial. Balducci argued that the imagery was used as a parody to comment on environmental pollution. Busch sued Balducci for trademark infringement and trademark dilution. Busch submitted a study during which beer drinkers had been shown the Snicker ad. Many of those interviewed assumed that Busch had had some role in creating the ad, and many could not tell that the ad was satirical. The district court dismissed Busch’s claims because it found that there was not likely to be consumer confusion from the ad and that Balducci’s First Amendment concerns outweighed the harm from any potential likelihood of confusion. Busch appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, J.)

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