Some things go together effortlessly, like peanut butter and jelly, while others leave you scratching your head. Beer, packaging, and lawsuits have recently become tangled up together as Greg Koch, co-founder of the widely respected craft brewery Stone Brewing, has filed to take MillerCoors to court for attempting to steal his name. Koch is staunchly opposed to “Big Beer” and its attempt to capitalize on the success of craft beer.
According to the suit he filed in San Diego, Stone Brewing claims that MillerCoors is guilty of trademark infringement through its rebranding of Keystone Light beer. MillerCoors, for its part, claims that Koch is seeking the legal route for a publicity stunt, not for any legitimate legal resolution. But Koch asserts in the paperwork, “Keystone’s new can design overtly copies and infringes the Stone trademark.” The word “stone” is displayed prominently across the new Keystone cans, but without “virtually any reference to ‘Keystone’ at all.”
Due to the massive audience that MillerCoors can reach with its marketing efforts, “Such mass advertising broadcasts the infringing ‘Stone’ name beyond Keystone’s immediate social media audience to the general public at large,” the suit explains. Since Stone is the country’s ninth-largest craft brewer and the 17th largest brewer when also considering “Big Beer,” Koch’s words have power. Stone Brewing produced 12 million gallons of beer and recorded a revenue of $242 million just in 2017.
According to the lawsuit, MillerCoors is blatantly guilty of trademark infringement since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected MillerCoors’ request to register “Stones” in 2007, after which MillerCoors “abandoned its application, admitting that confusion with Stone Brewing beer was likely.” Koch believes that MillerCoors has purposefully utilized the word “Stone” in order “to capture the Stone mark and associated goodwill … (and) to mislead consumers.”
The bottom line? The words and colors printed on packaging are just as important as the packaging itself! Econocorp, a recognized worldwide leader, can’t settle legal beer disputes, but it can provide cartoning, tray forming, and casepacking machinery for moderate and lower production volumes. Call (781) 986-7500 to get started today.