Usually when we tell Los Angeles readers about merchandising and licensing issues on this blog, it's a positive thing. By that, we mean it is usually a situation in which one party is actively seeking permission to use another's name, image or likeness because it wants to share in that party's goodwill or positive reputation.
But here, we have sort of the opposite of that: Anheuser-Busch has asked Paramount to remove its Budweiser logo from future copies of the new Denzel Washington thriller "Flight" because it does not like how the beer is being portrayed.
In the movie, Washington's character is an alcoholic and drinks at inappropriate times, such as when he is at work as an air traffic controller. Budweiser, which released a statement saying it does not condone irresponsible uses of its product, wants the Budweiser logo obscured or removed when the film is released on DVD or for streaming via cable or Internet.
This is an interesting intellectual property issue, too. Anheuser-Busch has trademarked the Budweiser logo, of course, but film companies are usually able to use trademarks, logos and advertising in movies as long as it falls into the "fair use" exception. That means the use has to be no more extensive than necessary and can't substantially negatively impact the trademark holder.
Officials from other brands of alcohol used in the film, including Stolichnaya and Smirnoff vodkas, have not made similar requests to Paramount.
Paramount has not commented on Anheuser-Busch's request.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Anheuser-Busch Asks Paramount to Remove Budweiser From 'Flight,'" Daniel Miller, Nov. 6, 2012