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Stone Brewing Founder Greg Koch Responds to Sawstone Brewing

Stone Brewing Founder Greg Koch Responds to Sawstone Brewing

Last week, craft beer behemoth Stone Brewing made headlines when it was revealed that the Escondido, CA-based brewery has, in recent years, issued trademark cancellation requests to approximately 100 entities across the beer, wine, and spirits world that utilized the word “Stone” in brands or products in order to protect their trademark. The news first emerged from friends of Sawstone Brewing, a small 3bbl brewery in Morehead, KY and one of the recipients of the cancellation requests.

In an interview, Sawstone Brewing co-founder Nicholas Hollan claims that he and his team submitted offers to Stone Brewing’s lawyers to reach a compromise including commitments not to separate the compound word in any future usage. However, today Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch penned a response to the dispute and contends that the Sawstone team never responded to multiple attempts at a settlement before the story was leaked. Koch shared the following timeline:

On May 22: Our trademark attorney had a phone call with Local Pioneers’ lawyer to discuss scheduling and settlement possibilities.  Local Pioneers said they were putting together a settlement proposal and would send it over.  They did not send it.

June 18 – July 8:  Local Pioneers missed the deadline ordered by the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board to identify their evidence regarding the SAWSTONE mark.  We waited an additional three weeks to give them an opportunity to get these materials together but didn’t receive them.  We then finally filed a motion to compel on July 8. On July 10, our counsel received an email from Local Pioneers’ lawyers saying they would be making a settlement proposal soon.  (They also suggested we put the entire proceeding on hold, but our counsel said they wanted to see the settlement proposal first.)

On Friday, July 17, Local Pioneers’ lawyers emailed to say they would be making a settlement proposal the following week. Then the harassment and false statements etc. started over the weekend…and on into the following week.

On Monday, July 20, I personally heard the word “Sawstone” for the first time when some folks began making accusatory and nasty inflammatory comments on my IG account.

Photo Courtesy of Sawstone Brewing Facebook

However, Hollan explained that part of the delay between the two organizations has been caused by the inability to communicate directly.

“If this were between two small breweries, us owners would get together and talk it out. But we haven’t actually been able to speak with anyone at Stone,” said Hollan. “Our two lawyers have talked, and what our lawyer told us was that he was trying to extend some things because of the pandemic.”

Hollan went on to explain that Stone’s proposal for settlement would have required Sawstone to completely relinquish their trademark and also prevent them from future distribution growth.

“In June they (Stone) had approached us and said that their settlement would be that we relinquish our trademark,” said Hollan. “Only then would be able to keep the name, if we limited our distribution reach so that we couldn’t grow outside of the city of Morehead. That’s when we got upset because that’s not in the cards at all.”

In Koch’s open letter response, he also voiced frustration that since news of the incident first emerged, he and members of his staff had been subject to several incidents of “cyber- and cell phone stalking and harassment”.

Local Pioneers’ devotees riled up by lies bombarded individual Stone employees with repeated, profanity-laced calls, voicemails, texts, and social media messages.  One employee was subjected to repeated calls at 3am and 4am on his personal cell phone from anonymous Kentucky phone numbers threatening to “get” him.  Local Pioneers’ fans have exulted that they are “spreading [Stone employee’s] name like wildfire” and are “hoping [their] reputation goes up in smoke.”

Hollan responded by saying that Sawstone Brewing immediately took action to stop the continued spread of harassment as soon as they were made aware of some of their supporters’ comments and actions.

“People got really worked up by ‘big beer’ and I think they got really excited. As soon as we knew what was happening, we came up with a statement to say that we condemn those actions. Also when we identified the person who was primarily responsible for the harassment we tried to put an end to it as quickly as possible,” said Hollan.

Additionally, six days ago, Sawstone Brewing issued the following statement on their social media channels:

Greg Koch’s full response to Sawstone Brewing can be read here on Stone Brewing’s blog.

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Comments

  1. Garrett

    Greg Koch is a douchebag, always has been and always will be.

  2. Jon

    Wow, huge misguided egomaniac!
    I think I’ll try and trademark the lette a, an sue anyone who uses it.

  3. Beck

    The word “stone” is like the word “water,” you can’t trademark it. The only reason their lawyer didn’t talk them out of doing this was because they know they can use the cost of litigation to bully smaller businesses. Classic dick move.

  4. CC

    Definitely won’t be buying any Stone Brewing products in the future, but hope to head down to KY to check out Sawstone Brewing Co.

  5. Joey Boots

    anyone who knows GK knows that this is par for the course for him. He believes he is better than you and will never understand how you dont see it, too.

  6. Thirsty

    Simply not buying from Stone any longer. What a douchebag move. They represent everything that is wrong with the brewing community.

  7. BrookTrout

    Wow! What a sh!tty person. I’m thinking I’m done with Stone Brewing now. A lot of their stuff is mediocre at best anyways

  8. Clyde Baxter

    So is he going to take Keystone on next lol dirtbags never change.

  9. Stone gets every name thats stone in it? WtF are you part of the beer community or any community? Stone brewing was great a one point but that was a while ago! There beer SUCKS now!

  10. Steve

    They already did take keystone on. It was last year I believe.

  11. Loonypapa

    So when you get big and become a dick, you can lay claim to a word and prevent other people from using it.

  12. Patrick B

    Seems pretty reasonable. The Kentucky guys lost once they went with harassment.

  13. Umom

    Wait people still drink stone? What year is it, did I wake up from a 10 year coma. They haven’t been relevant or worthwhile in over a decade. Fucking clowns.

  14. M. Clow

    Careful their Carl, or Greg, or whoever you are. (Cuz your not Bells, Founders, or Short’s). What comes around goes around. Maybe Mick Jagger and the boy’s send out a cease and desist order on your Beer company under the grounds of brand infringement.

    I’m pretty sure they would have a better case than you Carl.

  15. That’s just not cool stone brewing company

  16. Jason

    Stone W00tstout was the first craft beer I ever tried. Loved it at first sip. Since then they’ve done everything in their power to ruin good beer, destroy companies, and keep their names in the news. This is simply ubsurd Koch. Ever heard of pick on someone your own size? I agree they had a case with keystone putting stone on their cans. To the untrained beer drinker a mistake could be made there. But I’ve never heard of sawstone, nor have I seen their beer anywhere near stones. Clearly they weren’t targeting stones customers/market by using their name. Greg just knows they can’t keep up in quality anymore. No exciting bombers, no ground breaking beers, the only “exciting” styles are all just renewed of old beers. They’ve gone soft and don’t want competition from the small guys who brew true excellent beer. This is a disgusting show of “my dick is bigger than yours”. I’ve got stone merch all over my house. Glasses, rare beers, coolers, hats, shirts, etc. And I’m dissapointed I ever gave them my money. Looks like I’ll be making a trip to KY to support true independent craft. 4-5 years ago that’s what stone seemed to be about anyway. What a travesty.

  17. John

    What a disappointment. They had a legitimate claim when they took on Keystone, but this just a sad attempt to drag their 15 minutes out a little longer. I get that you have to defend your trademarks, but nobody is going to confuse Sawstone, a 3BBL local brewery in Kentucky, for Stone Brewing. Stone seems to have really lost the spirit of craft brewing to their success.

  18. David W Bowline

    M.Clow,

    Larry Bell is even more of a douchebag than Greg Koch. I started boycotting Bells over 15 years ago. Seems some of the original brewer’s have enormously inflated egos.

  19. Drew Crawford

    Stone Brewing is overrated. Shame on them for filing against any brewery having ‘stone’ in their name. It’s a word!! I’m going to trademark the word ‘beer’ then have EVERY brewery have to go through me to have the word in their name. Bullsh!t.

  20. StBoston

    What pompous BS!

    I’m done with stone and will be telling everyone I encounter to not drink their beverages.

  21. STONE BREWING… GAME OVER GENTS…. YOU’VE OFFICIALLY CROSSED THE LINE.
    I WILL NEVER VISIT ANY OF THEIR BREWERIES OR BUY THEIR PRODUCTS EVER AGAIN, AND I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE EVERYONE THAT READS THIS STORY TO DO THE SAME. SPEND YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE DOING IT RIGHT WITH A GREAT SENSE OF COMMUNITY, AWESOME PRODUCTS AND THE CLASSIEST OWNERS ON EARTH: RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING, VINNIE AND NATALIE CILURZO.

  22. Dan B

    I used to be a fan of Stone

  23. David

    What a great way to get people to not want your product. The brewing community is supposed to be a collaborative non-biased friendly environment. Greg Koch is just another … . I will now drink anything but Stone.

  24. Kevin l

    Boycott stone brewery. I’m never giving them another penny. I will tell everyone I know. What a dick. Let’s create a boycott t-shirt and the proceeds go to SAWstone.

  25. Eddie

    I will never buy Stone Brewery products again.

  26. Scott Stone

    Hey Greg,

    My name is Scott Stone want to tell me I can’t use it. That’s been my name for 56 years…how long have you been around. I guess I will have to go to KY and support Sawstone brewing.

  27. James Johnson

    The “open letter” just makes Stone sound worse. I will not be buying any more Stone beer. Trademark and patent trolls are scum.

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