Harper Bates & Champion partner, Scott Harper, recently spoke with the San Diego Union-Tribune about a trademark case involving the seventh-largest craft brewery in the United States and the second-largest brewery overall.
In February, Stone Brewing filed suit against MillerCoors in federal court in San Diego, arguing MillerCoors’ rebrand of its Keystone beer packaging “intentionally tries to confuse consumers, by separating the ‘KEY’ from the ‘STONE.’”
“One of the keys of this case will turn on the concept of priority," Harper told the SDUT. "The court will look to see who used the term ‘Stone’ first in connection with beer, and if such commercial use was continuous and sufficient so as to create consumer understanding of who is the source of 'Stone' beer.
Harper added, "that while Stone asserts that it has consistently used ‘Stone’ as its trademark, MillerCoors may have an uphill battle proving it continuously used the mark 'Stone' in marketing Keystone beer.”
“Once you start using a trademark,” Harper said, “you have to continue using it to maintain your rights. It’s use it or lose it.”