USA/Netherlands: AB InBev files lawsuit with Heineken over patented beer-dispensing technology

AB InBev has filed a lawsuit on Monday with rival Heineken for infringing patents of its unique and patented keg design. The world’s leading brewer sued the number two in the global beer world in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and at the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging Heineken’s Brewlock and Blade draught systems infringe four U.S. patents.

Heineken’s Brewlock was launched in 2015. The company said at that time Brewlock is “a keg system 25% lighter than regular draught systems and is 100% disposable.” Adapted from the larger-scale version, Heineken enhanced the Brewlock system in 2016 and announced “a free-standing, compact and versatile countertop draught system with simple plug and play installation, minimal cleaning and little maintenance,” called Blade. In October 2017 Blade was introduced in the UK and in February followed the launch in the US.

In a press statement three months ago Heineken said that “Blade operates with Heineken USA’s proprietary BrewLock® system that pushes air between multiple layers within an 8-liter disposable PET keg, squeezing the inner wall and driving the beer out. This way the beer remains untouched by outside influences and is served only with the natural carbonation that is already in the beer. Blade requires no keg deposit or costly line cleaning or CO2.”

Heineken USA also explained that its new table-top draught system was designed especially for customers “that may have considered their beer volume too low to warrant the investment.”

“The unique Blade system guarantees fresh draught even when you only serve a couple of glasses a day, or a week,” Cormac McCarthy, Project Lead -Blade at Heineken USA was quoted as saying. “It’s simply fresh beer cooled to 2 degrees Celsius, and the beer stays fresh for 30 days," explained Heineken commercial director, Blade UK, Ross Mair.

This “unique” feature does not seem to be so unique, at least according to AB InBev’s attorneys.  “Only ABI’s research and development team was able to truly innovate in this area,” Anheuser-Busch said in Manhattan federal court papers. Allegedly Heineken approached Anheuser-Busch about the design but the two companies never made a deal for its use.

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