Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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New York jury to decide brew-haha over definition of beer

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(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York has decided it’s best to let a jury define what beer actually is.

The judge denied a request for summary judgment from Modelo, which is seeking to hold Constellation Brands liable for selling Corona-branded hard seltzer.

Modelo has allowed Constellation Brands to use the Corona name on certain beers, but Modelo has said hard seltzer products fall outside of a trademark licensing agreement.

The outcome of the case depends on whether the hard seltzer products constitute “beer” and therefore fall within the licensing agreement, as Constellation Brands argued. Modelo argued no reasonable jury could confuse beer for hard seltzer.

In his ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan conceded Modelo may have the better argument, but he said the word “beer” is too ambiguous.

“Modelo has more dictionaries on its side of this debate over the meaning of ‘beer’ than does [Constellation Brands],” Kaplan wrote. “But the fact remains that the dictionaries, however important, do not resolve this case.”

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