In a recent legal dispute between two large beverage companies, PepsiCo prevailed after a Manhattan federal judge dismissed Rise Brewing's claim of trademark infringement against it. The case revolved around PepsiCo's use of the term "Mtn Dew Rise" for their morning energy drink, with Rise Brewing accusing Pepsi of capitalizing on its brand identity.
U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that Rise Brewing failed to persuade a reasonable jury that Pepsi's product would mislead consumers. The judge's decision marked a significant turn in the case, as Rise Brewing had previously won a ruling by Schofield that prohibited Pepsi from using the "Mtn Dew Rise" name. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned this decision, which forced the transfer of the case to Manhattan.
Rise Brewing's attorney, Paul Tanck, refrained from directly addressing the judge's recent decision but stated that the company remained dedicated to producing high-quality organic coffee and expanding its business.
PepsiCo, the maker of Mountain Dew soda, introduced "Mtn Dew Rise," a fruit-flavored energy drink tailored for morning consumption, in 2021. Rise Brewing subsequently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Pepsi, asserting that Pepsi's distribution of Starbucks ready-to-drink coffee beverages indicated an intention to potentially harm a prominent competitor in the market.
Judge Schofield initially sided with Rise Brewing in 2021, issuing a preliminary injunction that restricted Pepsi's use of the "Mtn Dew Rise" name. The judge's decision was based on evidence suggesting a credible threat to Rise Brewing's business.
However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals challenged this ruling, contending that Rise Brewing's "Rise" trademark held limited strength and that the beverages offered by the two companies were dissimilar enough to negate the need for a ban on Pepsi's product.
In the latest development, Judge Schofield endorsed Pepsi's request to conclude the case before it reached trial. The judge referenced the 2nd Circuit's assertion that the "Rise" trademark exhibited weak associations, primarily linked to coffee, and highlighted substantial differences in branding between the two companies' beverages that outweighed their similarities.
With this most recent decision, PepsiCo successfully overcame Rise Brewing's legal challenge and reaffirmed its right to market the "Mtn Dew Rise" energy drink without violating Rise Brewing's brand identity. As the beverage industry continues to evolve and competition intensifies, trademark disputes like this one highlight the importance of brand differentiation and legal clarity in protecting companies' intellectual property.