On Friday, the San Diego federal court ruled in favor of Stone Brewing in a trademark dispute filed four years ago. Stone filed the lawsuit against MillerCoors (now Molson Coors) for illegal use of Stone's registered, Stone trademark after the company rebranded its Keystone beer as Stone. (inside.beer, 12.2.2018)
After a three-week trial, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez and an eight-person jury found that by separating “Key” from “Stone,” Molson Coors infringed on Stone Brewing’s trademark name and sentenced Molson Coors to pay Stone Brewing USD 56 million. But the jury did not find that the violations were intentional.
During the time of infringement, Molson Coors sold more than USD 1.7 billion of Keystone beer branded as Stone.
Marty Maloney, spokesperson for Molson Coors said in a statement its company was considering its options for an appeal. "What we learned through this trial is that Stone Brewing’s lawsuit was not driven by consumer confusion and that Stone Brewing has a USD 464 million debt [inside.beer, 17.3.2022] to pay to their private equity investors in 2023."
Stone Brewing Co-Founder Greg Koch commented, "This is a historic day for Stone Brewing, and for the craft beer industry. Molson Coors threatened our heritage, but we stood up to that threat. They will put the 'Key' back in 'Keystone' ending their hostile 4-year co-op of the Stone name. Cheers to our legions of fans, friends and supporters who believe in the good that craft beer brings. This is your win too."
Maria Stipp, Stone Brewing CEO added "We are committed to doing everything in our power to protect the incredible reputation of the Stone brand and the passionate team who built it.”
Stone Brewing is the nation's 9th largest craft brewery, yet in 2020 it produced 347,000 barrels of beer, only 0.5% the volume of beer produced by Molson Coors.