Budweiser Accused Of Illegally Using Official Tribal Logo & Slogan In Local Beer Ads

“Immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous”: those are the adjectives a Native American tribe in North Carolina chose in a recently filed lawsuit to describe Anheuser-Busch InBev’s use of the official tribal logo and slogan in a local ad campaign.

The Lumbee tribe of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the beer behemoth in federal court this week, accusing the company and R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company of illegally using its trademarked logo and “Heritage, Pride & Strength” slogan to peddle products at convenience stores in the state.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], the “blatant and ongoing” use of the logo and slogan in banners placed above beer coolers gives the false impression that there is an affiliation between the tribe, Anheuser-Busch, and the distributor.


“The lawsuit was filed because of the confusion and outrage created by advertisements for Budweiser and Bud Light,” the Lumbee Tribe says on its website.

The logo, which the tribe has used commercially since 2004, consists of a circular shape that “is symbolic of the Circle of Life,” while the slogan has been widely used by the Lumbee tribe since 2015.

The companies’ “use of the Lumbee tribe marks has created a significant amount of actual confusion in the community, including in the minds of some members of the Lumbee Tribe, and in the minds of consumers who mistakenly believe that the Lumbee Tribe has given Defendants permission to use the marks in a way that many members of the tribe find offensive because alcohol abuse is often associated with Native American culture,” the suit states.

The Lumbee Tribe says in the complaint that they ultimately filed a lawsuit after out-of-court efforts to resolve the matter failed.

“The Lumbee Tribe has been and will continue to be irreparably injured by Defendants’ conduct,” the suit states. “The Lumbee Tribe cannot be adequately compensated for these injuries by monetary remedies alone, and the Lumbee Tribe has no adequate remedy at law for Defendants’ infringement of its rights.”

The suit seeks to obtain injunctive relief against Anheuser-Busch and the distributor, and to recover any profits the companies made through use of the logo and slogan.


A spokesperson for R.A. Jefferys says in a statement that the distributor has removed all of the advertisements after being informed on June 9 that the Lumbee Tribe objected to the use of its logo and slogan.

“In this matter, R.A. Jeffreys developed some point-of-sale advertising materials that were intended to honor the rich heritage of the Lumbee Tribe,” the rep said. “These materials were developed by R.A. Jeffreys without the involvement, input or knowledge of Anheuser-Busch.

“R.A. Jeffreys regrets any offense that may have been taken to the use of the materials in which the Lumbee Tribe claims an interest, and R.A. Jeffreys will not make any further use of such materials unless specifically permitted to do so by the Lumbee Tribe. R.A. Jeffreys values and respects the heritage of the communities in which its customers live and work.”

[Via News & Observer]