On March 25, 2022, after a contentious, four year-long court battle, a jury awarded Stone Brewing Co. $56 million in damages against beer conglomerate MillerCoors, now Molson Coors, finding that MillerCoors infringed the craft brewery’s STONE trademark. Though Stone Brewing initially sought $256 million in damages, the brewery’s co-founder, Greg Koch, celebrated the verdict as a major victory, calling it “a historic day for Stone Brewing, and for the craft beer industry.” For brand owners, this decision underscores the importance of protecting one’s trademark rights.
Stone Brewing first filed the trademark infringement lawsuit in 2018, alleging that MillerCoors intended to trade off of the goodwill and recognition of Stone Brewing’s STONE brand when it rebranded its Keystone beer to emphasize the word “stone.” Indeed, MillerCoors’ rebranding changed the overall appearance of the word “keystone” on its packaging and advertising, separating the words “key” from “stone,” and making the word “stone” more prominent. Notably, this rebranding came after MillerCoors tried to register the trademark STONES in connection with its beer in 2007. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied this trademark application on the basis that there was a likelihood of confusion with Stone Brewing’s STONE registration. Stone Brewing pointed to this attempted registration as evidence that MillerCoors’ later rebranding constituted willful infringement.
Google recently updated its trademark policy, and although some believe the changes are cause for concern, citing increased costs per click, that may not be the case. The following aims to bring some clarity to the issue.
Google has consistently expanded its Google Ads policy in allowing trademark keyword bids and the use of trademarked terms in the text of advertisements. The tech giant has always expanded these policies by regions, and just last week, Japan was added to the mix.
It’s estimated that room poaching results in upwards of $1.3 billion in lost revenue for hotels and lost funds for consumers every year. As hotels and consumers look for a way to fight against these losses, trademark infringement may be emerging as the most effective tool.
Room poaching occurs when companies position themselves as an event’s housing bureau in order to entice attendees to unwittingly book rooms outside of the official room block. Fake or out-of-block reservations can result in lost reservation fees for hotels, surprise charges and inconvenient and expensive last minute re-booking at alternative hotels for consumers. Further, trademark infringement can erode brand equity and good will between partnering hotels and groups.
Protect Your Good Name: Keyword Advertising and Trademark License
Published in Hospitality Upgrade, March 2013.
The Internet can be a hard, hard place for brand owners. Yet failing to engage potential guests online across a variety of platforms is no longer a viable option for the majority of hospitality industry participants. It is crucial that brand owners exercise control over their marks whenever possible. This article focuses on the legal use of keyword advertising, and provides some tips about how to negotiate trademark licenses in online distribution and marketing agreements...To read the full article click here.
If you have a trademark that is registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office before September 1, 2011, and you are not in the adult entertainment business, you should consider making a pre-emptive registration of the URL [your trademark].xxx now, to prevent someone who is in the adult entertainment industry from registering it later.
Lately, we’ve been hearing from a number of our clients and friends in the industry of a startling increase in the number of letters and emails alleging patent infringement. As hospitality- and restaurant-industry businesses become bigger and bigger users of patentable technology, we expect we may see many more of these claims. In an effort to provide a straightforward set of guidelines to our clients and friends, I went to my litigation partner, Tom Richardson, who happens to be defending a number of alleged patent infringement claims right now, and good friend and patent attorney, Charles Moore, and asked them for a streamlined checklist of how to handle receipt of such a letter or email. Tom brings over 35 years of litigation experience to a broad range of complex cases, including anti-trust and business torts; securities; trademark, copyright and patent disputes; complex commercial contract cases; and product liability and warranty claims and risk avoidance. Charles is a patent attorney with the Portland, OR intellectual property firm of Alleman Hall McCoy Russell & Tuttle, LLP, where he represents clients in a variety of patent matters, including helping them defend against patent troll claims, and preparing and prosecuting patent applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Charles also has over 13 years of in-house practice, most recently as Senior IP Counsel with Hewlett-Packard Company. Here are their suggestions:
About the Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.