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US: Beam Inc hits back at Sidney Frank lawsuit

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Beam Inc is “confident” of victory in a legal battle with Sidney Frank after the US importer filed a lawsuit against the global group and a subsidiary for US$100m. 

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According to reports on Friday (1 March), Sidney Frank claimed in documents filed at a Manhattan court that Beam denied it access to Michael Collins Irish Whiskey after Beam bought the brand's owner, Cooley Distillery. Sidney Franks said it had an outstanding contract with Cooley to distribute the whiskey, Bloomberg reported.

However, in an emailed statement to just-drinks today, Beam said: “We have been in commercial discussions with Sidney Frank regarding this matter and while we don’t discuss the details of matters in litigation, we are confident in our position and that we will prevail.”

New York-based Sidney Frank claims Beam was trying to suppress sales of private-label whiskeys so its Kilbeggan brand could challenge Pernod Ricard's category leader Jamesons, it was reported.

Sidney Frank lodged its claim at the US District Court in Manhattan on Friday. The importer is suing Beam and Cooley for breach of contract, unfair competition and tortious interference with the importer’s business relationships with distributors throughout the US, Bloomberg said.

Beam closed its purchase of Cooley, for US$95m, in January last year.


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