APNewsBreak: Budweiser seeks removal from 'Flight'

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012
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Jay Dougherty, a professor at Loyola Law School, said the use of brands in films has generally been protected by the courts, even when the companies aren't pleased with the portrayals.

"It wouldn't have been as effective a film if they used a bunch of non-generic brands," said Dougherty, who is also the director of the school's Entertainment & Media Law Institute. "In a normal situation, if the alcohol were just there as a smaller part of the movie, they might have created an artificial brand for it."

Other vodka brands, including Absolut and Smirnoff, are also included in the film. Representatives of those companies did not return messages seeking comment.

Paramount has some experience with a company upset with its inclusion in a film. In 2003 the studio won a case after the makers of the "Slip 'N Slide" sued over the use of the product in the film "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star."

In that case, a court found that requiring Paramount to alter the film and its marketing would "generate more hardship than it alleviates."

Dougherty and Mark Partridge, a Chicago intellectual property lawyer, also noted that a court rejected an effort to get by Caterpillar Inc. to get its logo removed from tractors driven by the villains in 2003's "George of the Jungle 2." The company had argued its trademark was harmed by having its product associated with the film's villains.

Partridge said with the explosion of product placement in recent years, a company might try to make an argument that by the brand appearing in a film, the audience assumed it had granted permission. "You'd have to have proof that people actually making an association and believing it was authorized," he said.

"It might be a different world," he said, adding, "I still think it's an uphill haul."

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AP Entertainment Writers Christy Lemire in Los Angeles and Jake Coyle in New York contributed to this report.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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