The Lumbee Tribe filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement and unfair and deceptive trade practices against Anheuser-Busch and R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The lawsuit is captioned Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina v. Anheuser-Busch, LLC et al, Case No. 7:16-cv-00148-BO.
The lawsuit was filed because of the confusion and outrage created by advertisements for Budweiser and Bud Light which prominently include the Lumbee Tribe’s name, logo, and “HERITAGE, PRIDE & STRENGTH” slogan as well as Tribe-related imagery. In the advertisements, the Lumbee Tribe’s name and trademarks appear in close connection with the Budweiser and Bud Light trademarks in a manner that suggests that the Lumbee Tribe is promoting the sale of Budweiser and Bud Light. Members of the Tribe and others in the community mistakenly believed that the Lumbee Tribe gave its permission for the Tribe’s name and trademarks to be used to sell alcoholic beverages and were offended because alcohol abuse is often associated with Native American culture. The Lumbee Tribe did not give Anheuser-Busch or R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company its permission to use the Lumbee Tribe’s name or trademarks. The Tribe has requested that the advertisements be removed immediately and filed the lawsuit to ensure that they are.