SDNY: Pepsi Prevails in RISE v MTN DEW RISE – A Legal Showdown Unveiled

In the fast-paced world of intellectual property (IP) disputes, a recent legal battle has captured the attention of many in the beverage industry. The Southern District of New York (SDNY) witnessed a clash between beverage giants PepsiCo, the maker of Mountain Dew, and MTN DEW RISE. The outcome of this legal duel has far-reaching implications for trademark law, branding strategies, and the protection of intellectual property. In this blog, we delve into the details of the case, the arguments presented, and the pivotal decision that saw Pepsi emerge victorious in the RISE v MTN DEW RISE dispute.


The legal saga began when PepsiCo, a global leader in the beverage industry, filed a lawsuit against Rise Brewing Co., the creator of MTN DEW RISE. This energy drink entered the market in direct competition with PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew. The crux of the lawsuit revolved around trademark infringement, as PepsiCo alleged that the name and branding of MTN DEW RISE created confusion among consumers, leading them to believe there was a connection between the two products.

PepsiCo’s Argument

PepsiCo argued that the use of “RISE” in MTN DEW RISE was not only similar to their existing Mountain Dew brand but also likely to confuse consumers. The iconic nature of the Mountain Dew brand, with its distinct green color and citrus flavor, has been a staple in the soft drink industry for decades. PepsiCo contended that Rise Brewing Co.’s choice of the term “RISE” in their product’s name was a deliberate attempt to ride on the coattails of Mountain Dew’s success.

The beverage giant further pointed out that the visual elements of the MTN DEW RISE packaging, including color schemes and font styles, closely resembled those of Mountain Dew. PepsiCo emphasized the potential for consumers to mistakenly associate MTN DEW RISE with their established brand, leading to a dilution of their trademark and potential damage to their reputation.

Rise Brewing Co.’s Defense

Rise Brewing Co. countered PepsiCo’s claims by arguing that the term “RISE” was commonly used in the beverage industry and did not exclusively belong to Mountain Dew. They asserted that the term was descriptive, implying an elevation or boost, and was thus fair game for any energy drink seeking to convey a similar message. Rise Brewing Co. also highlighted the differences in flavor profiles and ingredients between MTN DEW RISE and Mountain Dew, asserting that consumers would be aware.

The brewing company further contended that the market for energy drinks was diverse and dynamic, with numerous products featuring the term “RISE” without confusion. They presented market research indicating that consumers were discerning enough to differentiate between brands and make informed choices based on taste, ingredients, and other factors.

Legal Analysis

The legal battle hinged on established trademark principles, primarily the likelihood of confusion. The court considered factors such as the similarity of the marks, the strength of the plaintiff’s mark, the proximity of the products, the likelihood that the plaintiff would bridge the gap, evidence of actual confusion, the defendant’s good faith, and the quality of the defendant’s product.

The court acknowledged the distinctiveness and strength of the Mountain Dew brand, emphasizing its widespread recognition and consumer loyalty. It also recognized the similarities in the packaging and visual elements between the two products, pointing to the potential for consumer confusion.

However, Rise Brewing Co.’s arguments about the descriptive nature of the term “RISE” and the differences in the products’ flavor profiles played a role in the court’s analysis. The court considered the diverse market for energy drinks and the need for a balanced approach that protected the interests of both parties.

The Decision

After careful consideration of the arguments presented, the SDNY ruled in favor of PepsiCo. The court concluded that the similarities in the marks, combined with the distinctive nature of the Mountain Dew brand, created a likelihood of confusion among consumers. The court emphasized that Rise Brewing Co.’s use of “RISE” in the context of energy drinks, coupled with visual similarities in packaging, was not coincidental but rather a calculated attempt to benefit from the reputation of the Mountain Dew brand.

The decision had significant implications not only for the parties involved but also for the broader landscape of trademark law, setting a precedent for cases involving descriptive terms in competitive markets.

Implications for the Industry

The RISE v MTN DEW RISE case serves as a reminder of the importance of careful branding strategies in the beverage industry and beyond. Companies must be vigilant in selecting names and designing packaging to avoid potential conflicts with established trademarks. The ruling reinforces the notion that even descriptive terms can be protected under trademark law when they acquire secondary meaning through longstanding use and consumer recognition.

For businesses in the beverage sector, this case underscores the need for comprehensive trademark searches and legal, due diligence before launching new products. It also highlights the importance of differentiating products through unique branding elements, ensuring that consumers can easily distinguish between competing offerings in a crowded market.

As intellectual property battles continue to shape the competitive landscape, legal expertise is crucial for safeguarding your brand’s identity. Ensure your trademarks are secure and your business is protected with the dedicated team at Brealant, your trusted partner in intellectual property law. Contact us today to fortify your brand for success in the dynamic world of commerce.

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