Score one for true independent craft beer as the True Stone vs Keystone lawsuit continues. On Tuesday, March 26, the Court issued its order regarding Stone Brewing’s preliminary injunction motion against one of the world’s largest beer conglomerates, MillerCoors. It confirmed “Stone’s mark to be commercially strong and recognizable,” deserving of “strong protection.”
What does this positive ruling mean for Stone and craft beer? It means that MillerCoors’ Keystone cans are likely to confuse consumers, infringe on Stone’s trademark, and will likely be forced to undergo a rebrand after the case goes to trial. In short, Stone is that much closer to protecting its good name, reputation and brand integrity.
According to Stone, the ruling furthers their claim that MillerCoors is infringing on the brewery’s trademark rights. And an excerpt from the ruling seems to back them up.
“the Court agrees [with Stone], especially considering the marks incontestability, STONE® is entitled to the strong protection afforded to suggestive marks. Since Stone and Miller both produce a beer which is distributed nationally, a consumer is likely to encounter both within close proximity of the other, making it is reasonable to consider Miller a direct competitor of Stone … Taking all the factors into account, the Court finds that Stone’s trademark infringement claim against Miller is moderately strong.”
While the Court did not order a preliminary injunction, it found that the issue was one for trial, where Stone looks forward to presenting evidence of the significant impact that MillerCoors’ campaign has had on the craft brewery – and the massive sales which Keystone has accumulated since reviving itself using Stone’s trademark.
“This is a very big deal,” stated Greg Koch, Stone Brewing executive chairman & co-founder. “The Court’s order confirms what we knew: that MillerCoors should be ashamed of what they have been doing. All along this has been a clear-cut infringement case, and now we can focus our resources on proving the significant damages done to the good name of Stone Brewing.”
“To any believer in independent, craft beer, today is a good day,” added Koch. “All we ask is that you keep #TrueStonevsKeystone on your mind, and true Stone in your fridge.”
Stone CEO Dominic Engels has said MillerCoors made hundreds of millions of dollars after rebranding Keystone and that the rebrand has also hurt Stone and the brewery’s brand.
“We look forward to presenting this evidence to the Court at trial,” said Engels. “We entered this litigation to obtain permanent protection against future misuse of our brand. The Court’s holding is a win for Stone and we look forward to presenting these issues to a jury in San Diego.”
Stone filed suit against MillerCoors in February 2018 after MillerCoors tried to rebrand its Colorado Rockies-themed “Keystone” beer as “STONE.” The company had no choice but to combat MillerCoors’ aggressive marketing moves, which abandon Keystone’s own heritage by falsely associating with the one true STONE®. Stone announced the bold move by video last year and continues to wave a flag of independence, vowing never to sell out to Big Beer.
Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, the groundbreaking San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 9th largest craft brewer in the United States. Recognized as an award-winning, industry leader, Stone has been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 12 times, has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The multifaceted company is the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate their own brewery in Europe (Berlin, Germany), and also opened a production brewery in Richmond, Virginia in 2016. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing…and pledging never, ever, sell out to the man.