Stone is seeking over $1 billion in infringing Keystone sales

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Mar 31, 2020.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,394) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Stone’s Trademark Infringement Claims Proceed to Trial Against Keystone

    Stone Seeks to Recover more than $1 Billion in Infringing Keystone Sales

    Escondido, CA (March 30, 2020) - Stone has taken a big step closer to recovery in its long-running trademark infringement lawsuit against big beer brand Keystone, which was originally filed in February 2018.

    On March 30, 2020, the federal court overseeing the case rejected defendant MillerCoors/Keystone’s motion for summary judgment. The Court also granted partial judgment in Stone’s favor, dismissing Keystone’s “laches” defense that Stone somehow delayed too long in filing its claims.

    At trial, Stone seeks to halt Keystone’s use of STONE®, a trademark that is owned by Stone. Trial is now set for October 2020, where Stone seeks to recover all of Keystone’s more than $1 Billion in infringing sales during the period.

    The Court ruled that Stone’s claims must proceed to trial and that multiple factors weighed positively in Stone’s favor:
    • That the STONE® trademark “has obtained incontestable status” and that Stone “has a valid and legally protectable mark.”
    • That a jury could find MillerCoors has been “willfully using Plaintiff’s mark to suggest a connection between Keystone Light and the Stone Brewery product line” and “such actions have created confusion in the promotion of Keystone Light and Stone products throughout the marketplace.”
    • That there was a “fourteen-year gap” in Keystone’s evidence of purported historical use of “STONES”.
    CEO Dominic Engels stated that it “was a good day for independent craft beer and our employees.” He noted that, “the Court’s order allows the jury to rectify years of injury to Stone’s name and business. All of us at Stone are hopeful that #truestonevskeystone will have a meaningful impact on Stone and on craft beer as a whole.”

    The Court’s ruling builds on prior rulings that the STONE® trademark is “commercially strong and recognizable” and deserving of “strong protection,” and that Stone is likely to succeed in front of a jury. The Court also previously found that Stone’s damages expert’s “ninety-two-page expert report explains that Defendant’s conduct has caused substantial economic injury to Plaintiff.”

  2. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,825) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    This should be interesting
  3. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (281) Jun 4, 2005 California

    How anyone could confuse arrogant bastard (and its ilk) with keystone lite is beyond me. Guess the attorneys will sort that out.
    dewski312, BigIronH, Rocktire and 7 others like this.
  4. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (746) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Comical. I can't see someone who might seek Stone IPAs getting confused and buying Keystone AAL. And a Keystone AAL buyer would never buy the IPA because of pricing alone.

    Frivolous, baseless and a waste of taxpayer money, IMO. A simple cease and desist with court backing should have sufficed...
  5. cg123

    cg123 Initiate (93) Feb 27, 2012 Ohio

  6. StJamesGate

    StJamesGate Poo-Bah (4,794) Oct 8, 2007 New York

    Yet another case of big beer trying to dilute craft brand integrity + profit by confusing the consumer.
    I hope Stone take MC to the cleaners.
  7. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (402) Jun 13, 2017 California

    You're not going to win against the Big Boys
    BigIronH and Scrapss like this.
  8. Peach63

    Peach63 Champion (869) Jul 17, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Taxpayer money? Begging your pardon but, how is taxpayer money involved with this?
    BigIronH, SABERG, NodEast and 6 others like this.
  9. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (490) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    Aim high, expect low. I'm sure at the end of the day, this will be settled for 'just' sub 100-mil.
    BigIronH, ChicagoJ, Ranbot and 3 others like this.
  10. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (2,164) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    I'm guessing he/she is referring to the fact that the entire court system (minus private attorneys) are taxpayer funded.
  11. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (746) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    What he/she said.

    By the nature of it being adjudicated in a US Federal court, taxpayers will foot the bill of the court having to sit in session for the proceedings.
    BigIronH likes this.
  12. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,825) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I don't about civil matters, but any criminal matters I've been privy to have included a court services fee as part of the punishment.

    Also, the lawsuit isn't claiming that anyone would confuse keystone light with stone IPA, rather that keystone (by emphasising Stone) was marketing in a way that could confuse a consumer as to whether it was part of Stone's portfolio. This might inspire someone to try it thinking they'd like to try Stone's take on a light beer or it might give someone a negative view of stone if.they drank a keystone and attributed its nasty flavor to stone brewing
  13. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (5,006) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Thats the courts job ... to sit in session for proceedings ... they'd be in session whether this suit was filed or not.
    BigIronH, SABERG, NodEast and 5 others like this.
  14. officerbill

    officerbill Crusader (778) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Is Stone seriously claiming that MC emphasizing the stone part of Keystone cost them $1,000,000,000 in sales or that Keystone gained $1 Billion in sales due to the "confusion"?

    I'd love to hear the testimony from Stone's witnesses on this one.
    BigIronH, Roguer, ChicagoJ and 2 others like this.
  15. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (675) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Damn that’s a lot money. Doubt this will go to court but be settled in arbitration. Negotiations also start high and go down from there.
    #15 GetMeAnIPA, Mar 31, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  16. StJamesGate

    StJamesGate Poo-Bah (4,794) Oct 8, 2007 New York

    I believe that Stone had to bring this lawsuit: if you don't defend a copyright against infringement, you can lose it.

    Not sure of the details; someone with more legal knowledge can say more here.
    BigIronH, officerbill, Junior and 5 others like this.
  17. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    IIRC, the C&D was tried. Not sure, though.

    Also, the consumer confusion legal test is not for an informed consumer, but for an ignorant one.
    BigIronH, Junior, ChicagoJ and 4 others like this.
  18. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    It's their opening bargaining position, and is appropriate, especially considering the initial response to this issue from MC when this first started.
  19. GetTheYayo

    GetTheYayo Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Stupid lawsuit. Stone sucks anyway.
    Cotton_27 and Scrapss like this.
  20. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (143) Feb 25, 2013 California

    this should even up the Berlin and Shanghai debacles
  21. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (746) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    There's other things they could be hearing, that's probably better than this tripe, IMO.

    Fair enough. I'd say that the ignorant one is going to see the price and know the difference, one way or the other :slight_smile:
    BigIronH likes this.
  22. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    The judge apparently disagrees:
  23. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (5,006) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Its not like there are only 100 slots for cases and some other case is left out because of this one ... the courts hear whatever comes before them.

    Also as @MNAle pointed out ... the judge, applying the law, has found that there is definite validity to Stone's claim. regardless of what you think of them, they're entitled to their day in court and the opportunity to protect their interests.
  24. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Devotee (497) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa

    THIS. You have to start somewhere.
  25. joerooster

    joerooster Initiate (0) May 15, 2018 Virginia

    Stone will, and should, be awarded something from this, won't be $1 billion though.

    That said, Stone sucks and I'll continue not buying their beer.
    GetTheYayo likes this.
  26. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (746) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    And that judge is entitled to an opinion as equally as all the rest of us.
    GetTheYayo likes this.
  27. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I congratulate Stone for putting up this big of a fuss over getting Keystone off their lawn. It won't amount to that. But, the two fingered salute is planted pretty firmly in Keystones nostrils.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  28. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,926) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    This has already been played out as much as it's going to in court, and a negotiated settlement is inevitable. All the rest is just the dancers making their moves until then.
    MNAle and Scrapss like this.
  29. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (5,006) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    LOL, a Judge's ruling regarding application of copyright infringement law is a bit different than an "opinion" but whatever.

  30. meefmoff

    meefmoff Devotee (486) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    What's kind of funny is that, in the time since the suit was originally filed (2018?), the situation you describe has become more plausible since these days there are numerous craft brewers actually playing in the light lager waters.
    Junior and unlikelyspiderperson like this.
  31. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (652) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Stone went right to the lawsuit without a C&D letter, but it's very unlikely a C&D would have had any impact other than delay because as you said...
    I'm not a lawyer, but from the infringement cases we've seen around here I understand a C&D letter is polite way for lawyers to say "please stop infringing" but it has no power to compel the other to change. At most it's a warning that you may escalate to lawsuit later. But, if you think the infringer will keep on infringing then a C&D letter is a waste of time, and can backfire by giving the infringer extra time to mount a defense, counter-suit, or stage a social-media smear/promo campaign.
  32. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (160) Mar 15, 2014 California

    As is often with Stone, it's more a matter of if they can, rather than if they should. Perhaps if they win they can put the hops back in their beers, because they can and they should.
    #32 Beer_Stan, Mar 31, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  33. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    What he said below...

  34. Scrapss

    Scrapss Crusader (746) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Facts are not the sole basis for decisions handed down from the bench. There's a bit of fact and opinion in most rulings...otherwise there'd be no need to have judges and have them listen to plaintiffs and defendants: we'd simply input the case parameters into a computer and spit out the decision based on a computer program of rules.

    Kinda reminds me of the Sheliak

    Cheers, friends.
  35. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I'll still take a judge's understanding of trademark law and whether a claim has validity than just about anyone's opinion on a discussion board ("just about" is allowing for the possibility of a IP lawyer who is also a BA.)
  36. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Savant (959) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Is anyone else as sick as I am as seeing small breweries trying to destroy large macro beer by throwing all their power and money around on lawsuits trying to bleed the majors dry...NM, I think I have that backwards.:wink:

    Exactly. "Would you settle for 10%?"

    Also, a billion dollar lawsuit gets publicity (or at least it did before the 24/7 Covid-news cycle). This is the best way to bring light upon Keystone's attempt to obfuscate the brand- just keep people reading that Keystone does not equal Stone.
  37. lastmango

    lastmango Crusader (756) Dec 11, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Oh yeah!!!
  38. GetTheYayo

    GetTheYayo Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Federal judges are notoriously idiotic.

    Judge Benitez said it was a "close call," and that it should ultimately be decided by a jury.
    ChicagoJ, JackHorzempa and Scrapss like this.
  39. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,125) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Unlike opinions here on trademark law. :rolling_eyes:
  40. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (5,006) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Having argued numerous cases before a variety of judges, I can say that for the most part they do try quite hard to apply the law to the facts with as little opinion as possible, but sure discretion is certainly part of it.