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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

$56,000,000 is reasonable, judge rules

A San Diego federal court judge upholds Stoen Brewing trademark verdict against Coors

In a recent ruling, a federal judge in San Diego upheld a jury's decision to award Stone Brewing, a local craft brewery, $56 million in a trademark infringement lawsuit against the beverage giant, Molson Coors. The lawsuit, which led to the jury's decision last year, alleged that Molson Coors' 2017 rebranding of Keystone Light had caused confusion among consumers by prominently featuring the word "Stone" on its packaging. Stone Brewing claimed that this alleged infringement resulted in significant financial losses for their business.

Molson Coors' legal team countered these allegations by asserting that the use of the "Stone" nickname had been a longstanding part of Keystone's marketing strategy, and that consumers were unlikely to mistake Stone's craft beers for a budget-friendly product like Keystone.

Molson Coors had sought to overturn the jury's verdict and requested a new trial, but both of these motions were denied in a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez. Judge Benitez disagreed with Molson Coors' arguments, stating that although the products were not identical, they were closely related, as both are varieties of beer competing for shelf space in grocery stores.

Molson Coors contended that Stone Brewing had failed to provide evidence of consumers mistakenly purchasing Keystone instead of Stone products. However, Judge Benitez cited trial evidence that demonstrated confusion among retailers and distributors.

Furthermore, Judge Benitez rejected Molson Coors' claim that the $56 million awarded was excessive. He noted that this amount represented approximately 25 percent of what Stone Brewing had originally sought during the trial.

Why It Matters.

Beer always matters.

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