Yesterday, RISE AND SHINE Corp., dba Rise Brewing Co. (Rise Brewing), maker of organic, shelf-stable, ready-to-drink coffee beverages, filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo for willful trademark infringement. The lawsuit, Case No. 1:21-cv-3198, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – Eastern Division.
Rise Brewing was founded in New York City by three childhood friends, Jarett McGovern, Grant Gyesky, and Justin Weinstein, along with their co-founder Hudson Gaines-Ross. Together the founders worked to create a revolutionary, shelf-stable canned coffee beverage using all organic ingredients and targeting morning caffeine drinkers tired of the high sugar and fat content of the other products on the market. After nearly a decade of innovation and brand development, Rise Brewing has become a marketplace success, obtaining numerous awards for its products and becoming the owner of numerous federally registered RISE trademarks that protect its brand.
The five-count complaint alleges that PepsiCo has infringed on Rise Brewing’s trademark when it introduced a new canned morning caffeine drink that uses an identical product name, RISE. The complaint alleges PepsiCo’s use of the RISE mark on its new product has caused, and will continue to cause, consumers to be confused about the source of the parties’ respective products.
“My partners and I have spent considerable time and expense creating organic, great tasting coffee, and, in turn, a brand with remarkable success in the Ready-to-Drink beverage category,” said Grant Gyesky, Co-Founder & CEO, Rise Brewing Co. “PepsiCo's competing RISE product is already causing consumer confusion, threatening to wipe out the goodwill that we've been tirelessly working to build for nearly a decade.”
PepsiCo’s RISE, part of the Mountain Dew product line, launched in March 2021 and as detailed in yesterday’s complaint, targets Rise Brewing’s core demographic, morning caffeine drinkers. Focusing on the athletic and wellness communities, PepsiCo hired international superstar LeBron James to be the spokesperson for this new product.
According to the complaint, PepsiCo’s competing RISE product creates “reverse confusion,” a type of trademark infringement that occurs when a larger, more powerful junior user, like PepsiCo, adopts the trademark of a smaller senior user, like Rise Brewing, and uses its disproportionate commercial strength to saturate the market with the confusingly similar brand.
“By adopting our RISE mark on its morning caffeine drink, PepsiCo is confusing consumers and irreparably harming Rise Brewing,” said Grant Gyesky. “We are committed to standing up for what’s right for our employees, our customers, and their families—even if it means standing up to PepsiCo.”
In March 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a nationwide temporary restraining order halting PepsiCo’s rollout of a Gatorade product, GATORLYTE, for allegedly copying its competitor's product packaging, according to court records. PepsiCo reached a confidential settlement with the competitor ELECTROLIT earlier this spring. In the past, PepsiCo has faced similar trademark suits involving the GATORADE, VITAMIN WATER, POLAR and TROP50 brands.
Before bringing this lawsuit, Rise Brewing confronted PepsiCo about the alleged infringing RISE trademark. Despite being given the opportunity to change its product’s name, PepsiCo refused to abandon the RISE mark.
Representing Rise Brewing in the matter is an Alston & Bird team led by partner Paul Tanck of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group.
About Rise Brewing Co.
RiseandShine Corp. d/b/a Rise Brewing Co. (Rise Brewing), produces organic, shelf-stable coffee beverages. Founded nearly a decade ago in New York City, Rise Brewing sells its RISE-branded coffee products including coffee kegs and shelf-stable cans for offices, bars/restaurants and cafes. Find more information about Rise Brewing at www.risebrewingco.com. You can also follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, or Twitter.