Small Coffee Business Sues Pepsico Inc
Small coffee business sues PepsiCo, Inc.
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Complaint calls PepsiCo's tactics "unethical and unlawful," yet “not unfamiliar.” Small coffee brewer Rise Brewing's “hard-earned success is now being threatened by PepsiCo, a marketplace giant with a well-documented history of misappropriating the rights of smaller, innovative brands.”
Rise Brewing was the first brand in the United States to use a shelf-stable canned coffee product with a nitrogen widget—a small, plastic device in the can that stores nitrogen. When the can opens, this device releases bubbles, creating the creamy head usually seen on nitro cold brew coffee served on tap from a keg. The small and growing Connecticut-based company now sells tens of millions of dollars of its products, and can be found in retailers across the country., But it is significantly smaller than beverage giant PepsiCo, Inc. Rise Brewing believes that the freshly launched Mountain Dew caffeinated energy drink called "Mtn Dew RISE" infringes upon their trademark.
Explanation of Reverse Confusion
Registered trademarks are supposed to avoid brand confusion. The USPTO will reject trademark applications if a likelihood of confusion between brands is found. Rise Brewing's complaint says that PepsiCo's tactics are a violation of the Lanham Act, causing "Reverse Confusion" between the companies. Traditionally, the first to use a mark is concerned about a newcomer's brand appearing to be associated with their brand. In Reverse Confusion cases, the first to use a mark becomes concerned that their own products will appear to be associated with the newcomer's brand.
PepsiCo's History of Trademark Offenses and Resolution Attempts
Rise Brewing spells out PepsiCo, Inc.'s "Long History of Being a Repeat Trademark Offender" in the complaint, and cites the small company's attempts to settle the dispute outside of court, and before the official launch of the product. PepsiCo was "dismissive" of the company's concerns, and continued with the launch, even hiring LeBron James away from competitor The Coca-Cola Company to be the face of the new campaign.
PepsiCo's tactics of misappropriating the rights of smaller brands, as alleged by Rise Brewing, are unethical and unlawful. Rise Brewing, a small coffee brewer, has achieved significant success with its shelf-stable canned coffee product. However, the launch of PepsiCo's Mountain Dew energy drink, Mtn Dew RISE, is believed to infringe upon Rise Brewing's trademark. The complaint also highlights the concept of reverse confusion, where the first to use a mark becomes concerned about their own products being associated with the newcomer's brand. Rise Brewing has accused PepsiCo of being a repeat trademark offender and cites their dismissive attitude towards settlement attempts.
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