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Maker’s Mark wins in ‘handmade’ case

Beam Suntory Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has successfully defended its claim to be “handmade” after a class action lawsuit was dismissed by a Florida court.

Maker’s Mark is still facing a similar case in California (Photo: Maker’s Mark)

The US District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favour of Maker’s Mark and parent company Beam Suntory on Monday (4 May), following a lawsuit that claimed the company used misleading marketing when it labelled Maker’s Mark as “handmade.”

The ruling dismissed the complaint of two Florida consumers – Dimitric Salters and AG Waseem – “with prejudice,” ending the case. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle concluded the ruling by saying, “In all events, the plaintiffs have not stated a claim on which relief can be granted”.

Rob Samuels, chief operating officer of Maker’s Mark, said after the ruling that the complaints were “frivolous” and “without merit”.

Adding to this, Kent Rose, senior vice president and general counsel of Beam Suntory, said, “This ruling is very good news, and it should send a strong message to those who would seek to gain from similar baseless and irresponsible litigation”.

There are however still no developments in a similar case in California, where two consumers have taken a class action lawsuit against Marker’s Mark’s “handmade” claims.

Maker’s Mark is one of many brands being hauled into court across the US in cases that hinge on marketing terms such as “handmade” and “craft”.

The rise in popularity of products that promote themselves as craft, and their tendency to be bought out by big companies, is seeing them face much tougher scrutiny.

Blue Moon, the MillerCoors ale brand, is the latest company to be sued for allegedly misleading customers into thinking that it is a “craft” product rather than one owned by one of the world’s biggest brewers.

Leading the class action case – which was brought to court last week – is San Diego plaintiff Evan Parent, whose lawyer said, “[MillerCoors is] undermining the actual craft breweries, small businesses that are putting their heart and soul into the beer. They’re confusing the public about as to what is a real craft beer and what is not.”

MillerCoors is expected to argue that Blue Moon’s production scale and process merits it being described as “artfully crafted”.

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