Kona Beer Labeling Suit Moves Forward

Kona Beer Labeling Suit Moves Forward

Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California largely denied the motion to dismiss filed by the owners of Kona Brewing Company in a suit alleging that the brewer's labels misrepresented the beverages as being brewed in Hawaii, when, in fact, the company's bottled and canned beer is brewed not in Hawaii but in Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire and Tennessee.  Judge Freeman first held that although "pictures of surfboards and the vague phrase 'Liquid Aloha'" could be construed as mere puffery, the fact that the packaging included a "Hawaiian address, [a] map of Hawaii identifying Kona's brewery on the Big Island, and the statement, 'visit our brewery and pubs whenever you are in Hawaii'" could not be so characterized, and could be found to be actionable misrepresentations.  Judge Freeman did agree with Craft Brewing Alliance, Kona's owner, that the labels did not include express warranties that the beer was brewed in Hawaii, and that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief, since they were now aware of the beers' provenance. [9/7/17]

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