Oomph! The giant got knocked off the legal arena. It is said even the best have their worst days but how would one feel and describe losing a 15-year-old battle. It’s in the news almost everhere. Something very unexpected happened when the beverage goliath PepsiCo lost exclusivity over its renowned MOUNTAIN DEW mark with respect to packaged drinking water. On the other side of the battlefield was one not-so-famous Hyderabad based beverage manufacturer, Magfast Beverages.
The beginning of this 15-year-old rivalry was undoubtedly the courtesy of PepsiCo. PepsiCo was protective of its MOUNTAIN DEW mark, like any other company, and therefore, filed a trademark infringement suit against Magfast. It was over the usage of the MOUNTAIN DEW mark on their packaged drinking water bottle. Soon thereafter, Syed Ghaziuddin, the Chairman of Magfast, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of India, requesting the transfer of case to the City Civil Court of Hyderabad owing to jurisdictional limitations. Just after the transfer, Magfast slapped PepsiCo with a counter infringement suit.
In 15 years of ongoing legal battle, the Court observed numerous arguments, evidence, and witnesses, and documents presented by both the concerned.
On one hand, PepsiCo argued that its MOUNTAIN DEW mark prevails as early as 1940 and that it was first adopted in the US. It was between 1985-1990 MOUNTAIN DEW acquired trademark statuses in India. To further the infringement claims, PepsiCo asserted that it sells packaged drinking water under the mark AQUAFINA which is registered. Therefore, marketing and selling of packaged water bottles by Magfast, bearing an identical name and trade dress including the label, for a similar product, can cause confusion amongst the public regarding the origination of the product.
On the other hand, Magfast affirmed that it adopted the MOUNTAIN DEW mark in 2000 and that it has been using it over-packaged drinking water ever since. The facts mentioned in the further arguments were that PepsiCo started marketing and advertising MOUNTAIN DEW in India only after 2003. Magfast, with respect to structure, labels, designs and other features violation claims, of both the bottles are dissimilar and hence, there was no possibility that an ordinary purchaser might get confused.
Few days back, the Hyderabad City Civil Court dismissed the case by stating that both the products were substantially different from each other. The judge observed, all the marketing evidence exhibited by PepsiCo was dated prior to 2004, unquestionably 4 years after the official launch of Magfast’s packaged drinking water in Hyderabad. The final decision was that PepsiCo lost the sole rights of the MOUNTAIN DEW mark.
Irrespective of everything, Magfast was not able to prove trademark infringement.