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.”
Stone is represented by J. Noah Hagey and Jeffrey M. Theodore of San Francisco trial and litigation boutique BraunHagey & Borden LLP.