Remember how that guy sued MillerCoors because he felt deceived by how the Big Beer company branded Blue Moon as he believed it to be a craft beer? Well, this craft beer folk hero’s journey has come to an end after a federal judge dismissed the case with prejudice.
The plaintiff here was Evan Parent, a self-proclaimed “beer afficianado” sought damages for deceptive trade, consumer law violations, false advertising law and unfair competition. He really had a beef with the up charging of Blue Moon (giving it that prestige) and the company’s use of the term “Artfully Crafted” on its labeling and ads.
MillerCoors removed the case to Federal Court under the Class Action Fairness Act and filed a motion to dismiss in June 2015, for failure to state a claim.
MillerCoors claimed that its trademarked Blue Moon Brewing Co. trade name falls within California’s safe harbor and that no reasonable consumer could have been misled by its craft beer and Artfully Crafted representations because there is no standard definition of craft beer.
As much as I would like to not agree with MillerCoors, the plaintiff’s challenge here does some pretty weak. The judge didn’t seem to have much internal debate.
From Yahoo Finance:
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego said the plaintiff, Evan Parent, did not show MillerCoors affirmatively misrepresented the origins of Blue Moon, a Belgian-style wheat beer, such as by suggesting it is brewed in small tanks and produced in a small brick building run by “The SandLot Guys.”
“At best, these advertisements contain generalized, vague and unspecified assertions that amount to mere puffery upon which a reasonable consumer could not rely,” Curiel wrote in a decision on Thursday.
The judge also found no showing that MillerCoors pressured retailers to put Blue Moon in craft beer displays, and said it was not liable if concert venues, sports venues and restaurant chains such as Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s decided on their own to call it a craft beer.
While we poke fun at the obvious humor in this lawsuit, there is definitely a measure of concern in its outcome, specifically in that last part. I mean, there are a plenty of legit reasons for a little guy to challenge the power of Big Beer companies, so hopefully this didn’t accidentally set legal precedent that hurts future, more reasonable arguments against deceptive Big Beer tactics.