PepsiCo sued by Rise coffee maker over morning energy drink

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Bottles of Pepsi at a grocery store in Pasadena, California. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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  • Coffee company alleges Pepsi's Mtn Dew Rise will cause confusion
  • Rise says Pepsi will flood market with similar mark, squeeze it out

(Reuters) - Coffee drink maker Rise Brewing has sued PepsiCo in Chicago federal court for trademark infringement, alleging Pepsi’s Mtn Dew Rise morning energy drinks, launched in March, are likely to cause confusion with its Rise canned cold-brew coffee.

Rise Brewing said in its Tuesday complaint that Pepsi is trying to squeeze the company out of the market by "flooding" it with similarly named products, causing consumers to wrongly associate "Rise" with Pepsi.

Pepsi didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Rise Brewing's attorney Jason Rosenberg of Alston & Bird said in a Wednesday email that the company "cannot sit back and simply watch while its brand value is destroyed and its loyal customers are confused."

Alston & Bird won a temporary restraining order in a separate case against Pepsi in March blocking the planned launch of its Gatorlyte hydration drinks, following allegations that it copied the trade dress of Mexican company Laboratorios Pisa's Electrolit. The parties settled that case later that month.

The Tuesday complaint said Stamford, Conn.-based Rise Brewing contacted Pepsi about the potential confusion before it launched Mtn Dew Rise, but Pepsi was "dismissive" of its concerns and argued that confusion wasn't likely because Mtn Dew Rise is a "morning caffeine drink and not a coffee drink."

But Rise Brewing said Pepsi's Rise-branded caffeine drink was "designed to specifically target the morning coffee drinker, and is marketed as a morning caffeinated drink to replace ready-to-drink coffee drinks such as Rise," noting among other things that Mtn Dew Rise is sold on the same shelves in the same stores as Rise Brewing's drinks.

Pepsi also distributes Starbucks ready-to-drink coffee drinks, and Rise Brewing said Pepsi knew that the launch of Mtn Dew Rise would "destroy a leading competitor" to them.

The case is Rise Brewing v. PepsiCo Inc., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:21-cv-03198.

For Rise Brewing: Jason Rosenberg of Alston & Bird, Colin Wexler of Goldberg Kohn.

Read more:

IN BRIEF: Judge halts PepsiCo’s Gatorlyte rollout – again

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com