SBD/March 1, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Labatt Asks Court To Throw Out NHL's Deal With Molson Coors

Labatt has been a sponsor of the NHL in Canada since '98
Labatt has asked the Ontario Superior Court to "toss out" the NHL's new $375M sponsorship agreement with Molson Coors, according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. Labatt claims that it "reached a deal to renew its Canadian sponsorship agreement with the NHL in November, but that the league then turned around and signed a North America-wide contract with Molson Coors instead." Labatt in its court filing stated, "The NHL ... in bad faith and in breach of their contractual obligations, went behind Labatt's back to negotiate an agreement with the Molson Coors Respondents for the rights Labatt has held for almost 13 years." The filing "names four arms of the NHL, as well as Molson Coors Canada, and MillerCoors." Labatt said that its agreement with the NHL was "so solid that the league told other, unspecified third parties about it before it signed with Molson Coors." Rubin notes none of Labatt's allegations "have been proven in court." Labatt VP/Corporate Affairs Charlie Angelakos in a statement said that the company hopes to "have the case heard and determined before June 2011." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in a statement said, "We intend to defend against Labatt's claim vigorously and we are confident that our position ultimately will be fully vindicated by the court." Bobby Sachdeva, a partner at law firm Pallett Valo, said that Labatt's court filing "makes it clear it still hopes to be a league sponsor, and it isn't just out to wreak havoc on its rival." Sachdeva: "They're not asking for money. They want the court either to say 'Labatt had a valid deal with the NHL,' or for the court to say 'Labatt didn't have a valid deal, but the league has an obligation to keep negotiating with them'" (TORONTO STAR, 3/1).
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