Since Friday, Escondido, CA’s Stone Brewing Co. and its co-founder, craft beer industry luminary Greg Koch, have been promising that a fight was coming. In cryptic terms, they implied that Stone was going to be picking a fight of unusual size and ferocity. And Monday afternoon, the hammer finally dropped: Stone is officially suing MillerCoors. Koch announced the news himself in a short video that lays out the grounds of their lawsuit, which stems from the marketing of the Keystone brand of beers.
According to Koch, the suit alleges that MillerCoors’ use of the shortened “Stone” or “Stones” name is deliberately intended to cause confusion with Stone’s name within the marketplace. Koch says: “We believe that MillerCoors is intentionally and deliberately trying to cause confusion in the marketplace with their Keystone brand. You can see it in the cans; you can see it in their packaging; you can see it in their marketing. They’re being surprisingly bold with this.”
Continues Koch: “The point is, there is an intentional obfuscation that they are trying to run, confusing people with our brand. So our message to you MillerCoors is very simple. You can end all this right here and now by one simple move that reinforces your brand that you built. Put the “key” back in Keystone. Stop using Stone as a stand-alone word, because when it comes to a stand-alone word in the world of beer, it’s ours. We believe we are in the right, and so we are going to do what we feel we have to do. We appreciate your support.”
Koch also throws a little shade at other former craft breweries that have been acquired by larger brewing conglomerates such as AB-InBev (Goose Island, Elysian, Wicked Weed & more), MillerCoors (Saint Archer, Terrapin) and Heineken (Lagunitas). However, he says that Big Beer “know they can’t buy Stone.”
We’ll be sure to give further details on this lawsuit as they continue to develop. Brewbound editor Chris Furnari meanwhile confirms via Twitter that the lawsuit has indeed been filed.