PepsiCo Just Scored A Major Legal Win

Major brands are no strangers to potential lawsuits. With so much publicity and so many customers served, it's often only a matter of time before a well-known brand is hit with some kind of legal action. PepsiCo knows the feeling — so much so, that some of its biggest lawsuits have even been ranked by Lawyer Inc.

Back in March 2021, PepsiCo partnered with LeBron James to announce the release of its new line of energy drinks. According to CNBC, the drinks set themselves apart from others in the energy category by creating a product that's healthier than the competition; the drink includes ingredients such as vitamins A and C, plus a reported memory-boosting element known as citicoline.

PepsiCo's excitement about the new launch hit a wall back in June 2021, though, when Rise Brewing, a company that makes canned coffee beverages, filed a trademark lawsuit against the beverage giant (via PR Newswire). After more than a year in the courts, though, the verdict is in.

PepsiCo won its trademark appeal against Rise Brewing

Rise Brewing filed a lawsuit claiming that PepsiCo's branding and use of the term "rise" for its Mountain Dew energy drink were too similar to that of the canned coffee company. According to Food Dive, the verdict was initially ruled in the plaintiff's favor, but PepsiCo appealed — and won. Per court documents, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Rise Brewing's trademark of the term "Rise" was not distinctive enough to constitute a ruling in their favor. 

The documents stated that, in reference to the first ruling, "The district court failed to note that the strong logical associations between "Rise" and coffee represent weakness and place the mark [trademark] at the low end of the spectrum of suggestive marks ... This mistake constituted legal error." Essentially, the connection between the terms "rise" and "coffee" wasn't unique enough for Rise Brewing to call it an infringement. For that reason, the appeals court overturned the initial ruling.

Prior to the most recent ruling, PepsiCo announced that it would change the name of its energy drink. Though it continued to appeal the first ruling, PepsiCo did go forward with a name change; the drink is now called Mtn. Dew Energy.