Stone Brewing has settled a trademark lawsuit brought by North Carolina craft beer maker Sycamore Brewing over the catch phrase "Keep It Juicy" — with both sides walking away without paying damages.
The settlement came last week, shortly after Stone Brewing filed a countersuit against Sycamore calling its legal action a "sham." The Escondido, California craft beer maker claimed that Sycamore didn't disclose to the court — nor apparently to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office —that a different brewery with distribution in 14 states has been using the phrase "Keep It Juicy" on its IPA beer cans since 2017.
That's three years before Sycamore registered to trademark the tagline, which was granted in August 2021, according to Stone. The brewery contends this prior use of "Keep It Juicy" raises doubts over the trademark's validity.
As part of the settlement, a nationwide injunction banning Stone Brewing from using "Keep It Juicy" was rescinded and dissolved. A North Carolina federal judge granted the preliminary injunction on April 21 and ordered Stone Brewing to cover up the phrase on beer boxes already in the marketplace, using labels or some other means. Preliminary injunctions must clear steep legal hurdles, and the fact that it was granted was noteworthy.
The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice — meaning the parties can bring similar legal actions in the future. A $50,000 cash bond that Sycamore placed with the court related to the preliminary injunction will be returned. Each company will be responsible for its own attorney's fees.
On April 11, Sycamore Brewing accused Stone, the nation's ninth-largest craft by volume, of stealing the "Keep It Juicy" phrase for its Hazy IPAs packaging. The legal action came on the heels of Stone Brewing's $56 million jury award in March against Molson Coors.
Stone and Molson Coors fought a four-year trademark battle over the "Own the Stone" marketing campaign for Keystone Light. Sycamore Brewing's lawsuit echoed many of the same accusations that Stone Brewing had made against Molson Coors.
Prior to the settlement, Stone's countersuit claimed that Two Roads Brewing of Connecticut has printed "Keep It Juicy" on its IPA beer cans for years. Blue Earl Brewing in Delaware and Blue Note Brewing in California also used Keep It Juicy in promotions.
"Keep It Juicy is a common phrase that no single brewer can or should own," the company said in filings. "But even if it could be owned, it is Sycamore that has stolen it from Two Roads, not Stone that has stolen it from Sycamore."
©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This story was originally published May 18, 2022 6:38 PM.