Stone Brewing Sues MillerCoors for Swiping 'Stone' Brand

Co-founder and executive chairman of Stone Brewing Greg Koch

Stone Brewery, ninth largest craft brewer in the United States, is taking the second largest beer maker to court.

Stone Brewing company is suing MillerCoors, claiming its recent Keystone rebrand is too close to their company name.

The Keystone line of light beers was rebranded to emphasize the "Stone" in their name, putting it in a large font on the side of their cans and in their new marketing.

"We believe that MillerCoors is intentionally and deliberately trying to create confusion in the marketplace, and that is why we are suing them", Stone Brewing's co-founder and executive chairman Greg Koch said in a almost 5-minute long video.

"They found people who were willing to sell out", he said. "Or at least they can try".

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"Big Beer is once again playing dirty in their battle against independent beer", Koch tweeted on Monday. "At Stone we have always prided ourselves on going our own way". A whole generation of beer drinkers very well could associate the name Stone with affordable Keystone and Keystone Light rather than the premium craft product made by Stone Brewing in Escondido California and Richmond Virginia.

Stone Brewing's lawsuit also says that MillerCoors tried in 2007 to register the mark "Stones" for use with Keystone Light beer, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application because "Stones" could be likely to be confused with Stone Brewing's trademark of "Stone" when used on beer. Now its marketing team is making 30-pack boxes stacked high with nothing but the word "STONE" visible. "Such mass advertising broadcasts the infringing "Stone" name beyond Keystone's immediate social media audience to the general public at large", the suit says.

The lawsuit calls out various Facebook, Instagram and ESPN.com ads as further proof of the infringement. Stone, along with Karl Strauss, Coronado, Ballast Point, Pizza Port and AleSmith defined San Diego as a brewing destination in the '90s.

In the video, Koch holds up a Keystone Light and notes that "Stone" and "Light" are "two words you would never use in association with our company". "By deliberately creating confusion in the marketplace, MillerCoors is threatening not only our legacy, but the ability for beer drinkers everywhere to make informed purchasing decisions". Meanwhile, according to Nielsen, the beer industry's Domestic Premium category dipped four percent in 2017, equating to a $12.5 billion loss.

Stone Brewing is represented in the lawsuit by Noah Hagey, Rebecca Horton and Toby Rowe of San Francisco litigation boutique BraunHagey & Borden LLP.

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