Blue Moon Litigation Update
As OBC predicted, MillerCoors filed a motion to dismiss the class-action lawsuit filed against it claiming its marketing and advertising of Blue Moon is false, deceptive and misleading consumers to believe Blue Moon is "craft" beer. For those interested in reading the entire motion and its exhibits (over 80 pages), it is available here. A few arguments made by MillerCoors are worth discussing.
First, MillerCoors argues the use of its "Blue Moon Brewing Company" trade name on bottles and packaging is permitted by law. Therefore, under California's unfair competition laws, MillerCoors argues this acts as a complete defense. According to the TTB, each bottle, can or packaging shall show, by label or otherwise, the brewer's name or trade name. For those breweries (operating or in-planning) which have trade name(s), it can be used on labeling and packaging, so long as the other requirements of the TTB's Certificates of Label Approval ("COLA") process are met.
Second, MillerCoors argues its reference to Blue Moon on its website as "craft" beer is not misleading. Under California law, "a likelihood of deception means that it is probable that a significant portion of the general consuming public or of targeted consumers, acting reasonably in the circumstances, could be misled." "Conduct is deceptive or misleading if it is likely to deceive an ordinary, reasonable consumer."
The Plaintiff relies on the Brewers Association's definition of "Craft Brewer" to argue MillerCoors use of "craft" in relation to Blue Moon is misleading. In response, MillerCoors argues the Brewers Association's definition of craft brewer is not controlling and should not prevent its use of "craft" in relation to Blue Moon. Rather, MillerCoors asks the Court to adopt the "ordinary and natural" meaning of craft: to make or produce something with care or skill.
OBC is interested in how the "ordinary, reasonable consumer" in Ohio perceives the the term "craft beer." The court of public opinion is now in session!