A California federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Diageo PLC misrepresents Red Stripe® beer as brewed in Jamaica, finding “no reasonable consumer would be misled into thinking that Red Stripe is made in Jamaica with Jamaican ingredients based on the wording of the packaging and labeling.” Dumas v. Diageo PLC, No. 15-1681 (S.D. Cal., order entered April 6, 2016). Details about the complaint appear in Issue 574 of this Update.
Bottle trays for six and 12-packs of Red Stripe® include, as the court explained, “the language ‘Jamaican Style Lager and ‘The Taste of Jamaica,’” the Diageo-Guinness USA logo and a disclaimer on the bottom of the packaging that states, “Brewed and bottled by Red Stripe Beer Company Latrobe, PA.” Citing a Second Circuit opinion finding that the description of a knife as a “Swiss Army knife” does not imply it was made in Switzerland, the court found that the “mere fact that the word ‘Jamaica’ and ‘Jamaican’ appear on the packaging is not sufficient to support a conclusion that consumers would be confused regarding the origin and ingredients of the beer.”
The court distinguished another case finding Anheuser-Busch Co. liable for misrepresentation claims for marketing Beck’s® beer with statements that it “Originated in Germany” and was “Brewed under the German Purity Law of 1516,” when considered in the context of the “overall marketing campaign and Beck’s 139-year history of being brewed in Germany.” The court also disagreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that Diageo failed to alert consumers to the production move from Jamaica to Pennsylvania, finding no support for the argument that Diageo had a “heightened duty” to counter consumers’ pre-conceived notions about the beer being brewed in Jamaica. Details about settlement of the Beck’s® case appear in Issues 570 and 582 of this Update.