INDIA – The Telangana high court has issued a permanent injunction barring Hyderabad-based MagFast Beverages from infringing on Pepsi’s trademark on the Mountain Dew label.
The court has held that beverages MNC PepsiCo has exclusive rights over the ‘Mountain Dew’ trademark and directed MagFast Beverages to pay damages to Pepsi.
In an 18-year-old dispute, Pepsi sued Hyderabad-based MagFast Beverages for selling bottled water under ‘Mountain Dew.’
Representing Pepsi, senior counsel K Vivek Reddy argued that Pepsi had registered the Mountain Dew trademark way back in 1985 and had exclusive rights over it.
He added that MagFast had dishonestly copied the trademark for selling bottled water, even though it was aware that Pepsi had exclusive rights.
Meanwhile, MagFast argued that it was not aware of Pepsi’s trademark and claimed that it came up with the Mountain Dew brand on its own in 2000 for the sale of bottled water, which was much before Pepsi launched Mountain Dew in India.
The court also upheld that phrase Mountain Dew is widely used in reference to PepsiCo’s products.
The bench hearing the case held that Pepsi had exclusive rights over Mountain Dew as it had a valid registration since 1985.
Reading the conclusive report on behalf of the hearing bench, Justice Rani noted that Mountain Dew had a worldwide reputation even before 2000 and that reputation has spilled over into India even before 2000.
Responding to MagFast’s claim that it was a prior user of the Mountain Dew trademark, the court held that MagFast did not present substantial evidence to show that it was a prior user of the Mountain Dew trademark.
The court reasoned that while Pepsi was using the Mountain Dew trademark for soft drinks, Magfast was using it for bottled water and these were two different categories.
The trial court also observed that the rights conferred by registration of the trademark were subject to the rights of prior users of the trademark, which in this case was Magfast Beverages.
The court held that even though bottled water and soft drinks are different products and sold across the same counter and bear the same identical mark, customers are likely to believe that both are being sold by PepsiCo.
The court went ahead to rule in favor of Pepsi, issuing a permanent injunction barring Magfast Beverages from infringing on PepsiCo’s trademark and also directing it to pay Rs 5 lakh damages to PepsiCo.
The High court has overruled the civil court in Hyderabad ruling that was given in 2020, which held that PepsiCo’s rights over Mountain Dew were not exclusive and that MagFast also had a right to use the trademark.