Molson Coors Owes Stone Brewing Nearly $60 Million in Trademark Lawsuit, Jury Rules

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A San Diego jury has ruled that the Molson Coors beer company must pay compensations to the Stone Brewing company. The issue centers around Stone Brewing’s concern that Molson Coors’s branding infringes on the company’s trademarked “Stone.”

The Stone Brewing company says that the Molson Coors Keystone brand is infringing on their “stone” patent. The jury sided with the Stone Brewing company on Friday. The beer giant is ordered to pay $56 million in damages to the Stone Brewing company. However, the jury did say at the end of the three-week trial that the Molson Coors company did not knowingly infringe on the trademark.

Molson Coors Considering Appeal Options After Jury Orders A $56 million Payout to Stone Brewing

One spokesperson for the Molson Coors company says that while this verdict is in, the court still has several questions to resolve regarding the Molson Coors defenses during the trial. Furthermore, the company is considering the options available for appeal, the spokesperson noted in the statement. The company also states that they believe there is more to the trademark infringement lawsuit. Something that ultimately has nothing to do with Molson Coors.

“What we learned through this trial is that Stone Brewing’s lawsuit was not driven by consumer confusion,” says Molson Coors spokesperson Marty Maloney.

“Stone Brewing has a $464 million debt to pay to their private equity investors in 2023,” Maloney adds.

Stone Brewing is one of the largest craft breweries in the United States. The Escondido, California-based company sued Molson Coors in 2018 over advertising for the company’s Keystone beers.

According to the complaints, the craft beer company argued that the Molson Coors company uses the words “Stone” and “Stones” in advertisements for the Keystone products. The company omitted the “Key” from “Keystone” in the advertisement. This, Stone Brewing says, infringes on trademarks.

The co-founder of Stone Brewing Company, Greg Koch, says that this ruling is a “historic day for Stone Brewing, and for the craft beer industry.”

In the lawsuit, the Stone Brewing Company argues that Molson Coors has been losing customers in as interest in craft breweries continues to rise. Additionally, the company alleges prompted Molson Coors to rebrand the Keystone products as simply “stone.”

Molson Coors, on the other hand, argues that the Keystone products have been on the market long before the development of the Stone Brewing Company in 1996. Because of this, the beer company says, regular Keystone customers don’t confuse the beers. The company also argues that they have used the word “stone” in their advertising for several years.