Stone IPA. Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.

A San Diego federal judge this week upheld a jury’s verdict awarding local craft brewer Stone Brewing $56 million in its trademark infringement lawsuit against beer giant Molson Coors.

Stone’s lawsuit that resulted in the jury’s award last year alleged Molson Coors’ Keystone Light rebrand in 2017 confused customers by prominently displaying the word “Stone” on its packaging, and that the alleged infringement cost Stone millions of dollars.

Attorneys for Molson Coors countered that the “Stone” nickname had long been a part of Keystone marketing, and that customers were unlikely to mistake Stone’s craft products for a “budget beer” such as Keystone.

Molson Coors filed motions to overturn the jury’s verdict and grant a new trial, both of which were denied in a Monday ruling from U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez.

The judge disagreed with Molson Coors’ assertions that the verdict was unsupported by the evidence, writing that while the products are not identical, “they are certainly very closely related — both being beer, which ‘share the same aisle’ and compete for the same space at the average grocery store.”

Molson Coors argued that Stone Brewing had not identified anyone who had mistakenly purchased Keystone while believing it was Stone, but Benitez wrote that evidence presented during the trial showed there was confusion among retailers and distributors.

Benitez also disagreed that the $56 million was excessive, given that it was roughly 25% of what Stone sought at trial.

City News Service contributed to this article.