Stone vs. Keystone Lawsuit
On February 12, 2018, Stone Brewing sued MillerCoors and others for trademark infringement. In essence, Stone Brewing owns the federal trademark for the word STONE in connection with beer, and alleges that in April of 2017, MillerCoors refreshed or rebranded its Keystone beer to emphasize the word STONE. The founder of Stone Brewing, Greg Koch, announced the lawsuit on Youtube.
The Court or a jury will have to decide if any or all of MillerCoors’ packaging or advertises infringes Stone Brewing’s trademark and, in doing so, will have to decide if there is a likelihood of confusion between the marks. Courts in the Ninth Circuit use the Sleekcraft test when deciding if there is a likelihood of confusion. This test evaluates the following factors:
- strength of the mark;
- proximity of the goods;
- similarity of the marks;
- evidence of actual confusion;
- marketing channels used;
- type of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser;
- defendant’s intent in selecting the mark; and
- likelihood of expansion of the product lines.
MillerCoors’ initial response to the lawsuit was the following quote from spokesperson Marty Maloney: “This lawsuit is a clever publicity stunt with a multi-camera, tightly-scripted video featuring Stone’s founder Greg Koch. Since Keystone’s debut in 1989, prior to the founding of Stone Brewing in 1996, our consumers have commonly used ‘Stone’ to refer to the Keystone brand and we will let the facts speak for themselves in the legal process.”
I’ll be following the lawsuit as it develops and updating this site to include important court filings, so that you can see what Stone Brewing and MillerCoors are actually filing.”
Stone Brewing’s complaint sets forth the trademark infringement and other causes of action alleged against MillerCoors. I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting parts.
This is MillerCoors’ Answer and Counterclaims to Stone Brewing’s complaint. MillerCoors therein claims it is actually the senior user of the STONE trademark in connection with beer.
Office Action (2007)
In 2007, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) rejected MillerCoors’ application to register the trademark STONES based on Stone Brewing’s 1998 trademark registration for STONE.
Here are a couple Twitter threads I created analyzing the substantive filings in the case.
— BrendanPalfreymanEsq (@B_Palfreyman) February 12, 2018
THREAD: @MillerCoors just filed an 82-page Counterclaim and Answer vs @StoneBrewing in the KEYSTONE LIGHT lawsuit. MillerCoors requests a ruling that it, rather than Stone Brewing, is the exclusive user of the word STONE. Copy of the doc available at https://t.co/NlEGv6XbUH pic.twitter.com/RVgmVt9EnK
— Brendan Palfreyman Esq. (@B_Palfreyman) April 11, 2018
THREAD: In an interesting twist, instead of filing an answer to @MillerCoors' counterclaims in the KEYSTONE lawsuit, late last night @StoneBrewing file a motion to dismiss them altogether. I'll host a copy of the actual motion at https://t.co/NlEGv6XbUH pic.twitter.com/5S52zTFUlx
— Brendan Palfreyman Esq. (@B_Palfreyman) May 9, 2018