Miller Brewing has launched legal action to end a licensing agreement with Molson that sees the Canadian brewer sell Miller brands in Canada.

Miller claimed that, following Molson's merger with Coors Brewing in February, the agreement gave its US rival access to confidential information on the Miller business. Miller is also seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

A spokesman for Miller told just-drinks today (22 December) that the brewer had tried to end the agreement out-of-court but had been frustrated in its attempts to obtain a settlement.

"It's clear that's not going to happen," he said. "Since the merger, Molson has other priorities and it's clear to us that our brands aren't one of those priorities."

The spokesman added: "It's clear that having a principal competitor in control of our brands in Canada is not satisfactory. We want to get control of our brands back."

Miller's lawsuit claims that the merger between Molson and Coors fundamentally altered the business conditions that prevailed during the original licensing agreement between Miller and Molson, which began in 1989 and was last updated in 2003.

The agreement granted Molson the exclusive right to sell Miller Lite and other Miller brands in Canada in exchange for royalty payments.

A spokesperson for Molson said Miller's decision to launch legal action was "a bit of surprise" due to the companies' "long-standing" relationship. She said Molson would continue doing its "very good job" in supporting Miller's brands while the litigation ran its course.

She added: "When one understands how the geographical divisions in Molson Coors operate, you understand that they are quite autonomous. Each geographical division has its own portfolio strategy, so Molson Canada operates and builds a brand strategy that includes and supports the Miller brands.

"For the moment, nothing changes. Molson will continue to brew and support the Miller brands."