A quick breakdown: San Diego’s Stone Brewing owns STONE as a trademark for beer, while MillerCoors owns KEYSTONE. In February, Stone filed suit, claiming that MillerCoors’ recent re-brand of Keystone’s can and packaging breaks ‘KEY’ and ‘STONE’ apart, while emphasizing STONE, thus infringing on their mark.
In an 82-page response filed April 10, MillerCoors claims to have used STONE and STONES as nicknames since 1995, about a year before Stone Brewing opened. In that filing, there’s a “Hail Mary” request: MillerCoors should be granted the exclusive right to the mark STONE and STONES in connection with beer sold in the United States.
Stone Brewing isn’t backing down, based on this press release (also shown as an image above).
Here’s the rub: MillerCoors claims that following a 2010 cease and desist letter from Stone, no suit was filed for eight years. A “barred by laches” defense is offered, meaning Stone had known about the alleged infringement but decided not to act further. The same could be said in response to MillerCoors’ ask for exclusive rights to the marks STONE and STONES; as far as we know, MillerCoors did not file suit against Stone Brewing in Stone’s twenty-plus year history.
- Justin Kendall of Brewbound wrote a thorough breakdown of MillerCoors’ answer.
- Brendan Palfreyman, attorney and creator of TrademarkYourBeer.com, posted a long Twitter thread regarding the April 10 filing.
- David Lizerbram, a trademark attorney who wrote an article on Voice of San Diego after Stone filed the initial suit, told West Coaster that even after reading MillerCoors’ response, he still stuck to his assessment that Stone simply has to demonstrate a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace based on the recent MillerCoors designs.