Jury Awards Stone Brewing $56 Million in Molson Coors Suit

Keystone Light branding did not work as expected

Stone Brewing stand
The Stone Brewing stand is seen at the Handgemacht (Handmade) craft beer festival in the Kulturbrauerei on May 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry/Getty Images

What happens when a branding initiative goes wrong? Beer giant Molson Coors just found out, and in their case, the answer involves owing an eight-figure sum to a craft brewery. That’s the end result of a lawsuit that Stone Brewing filed against Molson Coors over a rebrand of their Keystone Light — a rebrand which, Stone Brewing argued, confused consumers.

Via Reuters’s report on the verdict, we now know two big things about the jury’s verdict: they felt that Molson Coors had infringed upon Stone’s trademark, but that Molson Coors had not done so consciously. As a result, Molson Coors now owes Stone $56 million; based on the articles, it sounds as though an appeal might be in the works.

Stone Brewing began the lawsuit in 2018, following a rebrand of Keystone Light which emphasized the word “Stone” on the beer’s packaging. At issue was whether or not beer drinkers might be confused between the two brands.

The trial itself offered a kind of capsule description of the last decade or so in the world of beer — including the hardships faced by some craft brewers during that time. Also at issue was whether or not Molson Coors had used “Stone” to describe Keystone Light prior to the arrival of Stone Brewing on the scene.

At the beer newsletter Fingers, reporter Dave Infante zeroed in on some of the more interesting information that came up during the trial, including just what the relationship of Keystone Light to Coors Light is. As for what the ramifications of this ruling could be, the next few months could be very interesting in the brewing world.


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