Making “moonshine” is an important part of the history and culture of many areas in the Appalachian region, including Tennessee. Distilleries in the state will want to name their products in a way that encourages people to buy the product, but some may find some roadblocks along the way.
The distillery Ole Smoky Moonshine is pursuing business litigation against beverage giant PepsiCo regarding the phrase, “Mountain Dew.” PepsiCo has a product called Mountain Dew, but Ole Smoky Moonshine, which is located in Tennessee argues that any distillery should be able to use Mountain Dew in the name of its alcoholic beverages.
In 2015, Ole Smoky Moonshine wanted to trademark the name “Ole Smoky Mountain Dew Moonshine.” However, in 2016 PepsiCo filed a notice opposing the trademark. Per a motion by Ole Smokey Moonshine for a disclaimer filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), the distillery asks that the phrase “Mountain Dew Moonshine” to be disclaimed. If it is disclaimed, the distillery will not have to prove that it has the exclusive right to use the term “Mountain Dew” in the name of its products.
Ole Smokey argued that the phrase “Mountain Dew” is a general description and synonym for what moonshine is, and thus should not be exclusively owned and used by any one distillery. The distillery has requested that the TTAB approve the motion so that the distillery does not have to pursue further litigation on this issue.
Distilleries are an important part of the local economies in the Appalachian region. While it remains to be seen what the outcome of this case will be, sometimes the name of a product can make all the difference in the overall sales of the product. Therefore, it is important that distilleries name their products in a manner that benefits them financially without infringing on others’ trademark rights.