US Craft Brewery to sue MillerCoors over ‘Stone’ trademark

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Blasted: Stone co-founder Greg Koch accused “Big Beer” of trying to confuse customers
Blasted: Stone co-founder Greg Koch accused “Big Beer” of trying to confuse customers

Related tags Brewing

Stone Brewing has filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors, a subsidiary of global beer giant Molson Coors, over the marketing of its “Keystone” line of beers.

The brewery argues that the marketing and packaging of MillerCoors’ Keystone beers represents an infringement on the San Diego craft brewery’s “Stone” trademark.

According to the complaint, filed in Southern California, Stone Brewing asserts that MillerCoors is purposely trying to “steal the consumer loyalty and awesome reputation of Stone’s craft brews” with its recently rebranded Keystone brand.

MillerCoors rebranded its Keystone cans and packaging last year, and the new designs more prominently feature the word “Stone” in capital letters.

YouTube attack

In a five-minute video, released on YouTube, Stone co-founder Greg Koch accused “Big Beer” of aggressively buying out craft breweries and using underhand techniques to “obfuscate” and confuse customers.

“They found people who were willing to sell out,” he said. “They know they can’t buy Stone. They can obfuscate. They can co-opt our brand and our good name. Or at least they can try.”

“Big Beer is once again playing dirty in their battle against independent beer,” Koch later tweeted. “We didn’t start this fight, but no way in hell are we going to back down from it.”

Stone is requesting the US court stops MillerCoors from using the word ‘Stone’ in connection with the sale and distribution of its Keystone beer, and is seeking damages and profits from the sale of the rebranded Keystone products.

MillerCoors 'should be ashamed'

In a press release, Stone Brewing CEO Dominic Engels added: “Keystone’s rebranding is no accident. MillerCoors tried to register our name years ago and was rejected. Now its marketing team is making 30-pack boxes stacked high with nothing but the word ‘STONE’ visible. Same for Keystone’s social media, which almost uniformly has dropped the ‘Key.’

“We will not stand for this kind of overtly and aggressively deceptive advertising. Frankly, MillerCoors should be ashamed.”

The Morning Advertiser​ did not receive a response from MillerCoors ahead of publication. However, the company told Business Insider​ that the lawsuit was “a clever publicity stunt” and that is hoped the facts would “speak for themselves in the legal process."

Stone Brewing was founded in 1996, and in 2016 the brewery opened a second site in Berlin to supply beer to the European and UK market. The brewery was twice named as the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate​ magazine.

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