Food & Drinks

US court rules PepsiCo can use Mtn Dew Rise branding

PepsiCo is once again allowed to use its Mtn Dew Rise caffeinated energy drink branding following an appeals court verdict in the US.

A unanimous 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturned a ruling from November that blocked PepsiCo from using the word ‘Rise’ on packaging or marketing.

At the time, New York district judge Lorna Schofield said Rise Brewing, which had claimed PepsiCo’s branding was a direct threat and was trying to push it out of the market, was likely to win its case and subsequently granted a preliminary injunction against the US giant.

PepsiCo had argued expert surveys indicated consumers would not be confused and that Mtn Dew Rise was a fruit-flavoured energy drink, not a coffee product. Judge Schofield ruled both drinks displayed the word ‘Rise’ in a highlighted manner and that both products were similar in that they are canned, caffeinated beverages.

She also questioned PepsiCo’s expert consumer survey, pointing to witness testimony who stated they had seen in-store confusion between the brands.

However, the appeals court had ruled that “the district court erred assessing the strength of [the] plaintiff’s mark and the similarity of the products”. This decision resulted in the removal of the preliminary injunction blocking PepsiCo from using its Mtn Dew Rise branding.

The appeals court stated the lower court made two “significant errors“ and that it “failed to recognise the inherent weakness of [the] plaintiff’s mark” as it “failed to note that the strong logical associations between ‘Rise’ and coffee”. It highlighted there are many ‘Rise’ trademarks covering coffee drinks.

“If there was room for the] plaintiff’s use of ‘Rise’ in the already crowded coffee field, there would also be room for [the] defendant’s, especially on a product that is distinct from coffee,” the appeals court stated.

The court detailed the difference in the two companies’ packaging of their ‘Rise’ products and ruled “there is little about the appearance of the two cans that would suggest to a consumer that they come from the same source”.

In a light admonishment of Rise Brewing, the court wrote if PepsiCo’s product caused consumer confusion this was due to the fact Rise Brewing had “[chosen] a weak mark in a crowded field.”

Just Drinks contacted PepsiCo and Rise Brewing for comment.

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The post US court rules PepsiCo can use Mtn Dew Rise branding appeared first on Just Drinks.

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