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Stone Brewing: Hypocrite or Hilarious?

19 January 2015

Recently, Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, CA initiated and then rescinded a trademark infringement claim against Sierra Nevada Brewing, feeling that the letters “IPA” written across a beer label (for a different beer name, in a different font, with clarifying words in front of it) were too similar to their own “IPA” letters written across a beer label. Once the internet attacked Lagunitas for a largely frivolous lawsuit (see the images and notice that they are not alike in any way, other than referring to the beer style), Lagunitas called it off.

lagunitas v sierra nevada long

Now, whether or not the lawsuit was ridiculous or not (it was), Stone Brewing Co. decided to have a little fun at Lagunitas’s expense by releasing a fake beer on their Facebook page: Sosumi IPA, clearly using Lagunitas’s IPA font for the design. Now, it is quite possible that the two brewery owners are good friends and just enjoy taking the piss out of each other, but it seems the ways in which they make fun—especially since they themselves have resorted to lawyers to combat a not-even-close name relationship.

sosumiIt was within the last year that Stone Brewing Co. issued a cease-and-desist notice to Boulder, CO brewery, The Kettle & Stone Brewing Co. Uh oh, they used the same word in their name—clearly a cause for lawyering up to protect Stone’s brand from a brewery that isn’t in the same city, doesn’t use the same font or writing, and has a completely different logo. I could see if they had named themselves something like Stone’s Brewing Co. and had a devil-like logo—that would cause market confusion. But just happening to share a single word? The Kettle & Stone eventually changed their name to Vindication Brewing Co., certainly as a dig at their much larger and much more powerful Stone Brewing.

So, what do you think? Is it okay for Stone to have a little laugh at Lagunitas’s expense, or is this joke just a tad too hypocritical, given Stone’s past actions? Let us know in the comments.

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