Ole Smoky: ‘Mountain dew’ term should be open to all spirits

14th March, 2019 by Nicola Carruthers

Tennessee-based moonshine producer Ole Smoky has filed a motion for the term ‘mountain dew’ to be used for distilled spirits as part of its ongoing trademark battle with soft drinks giant PepsiCo.

Ole-Smoky-whiskey

Ole Smoky produces whiskey and moonshine

Ole Smoky acquired the rights to the name ‘Mountain Dew’ in 2015 from John Robert McCulloch, who sold spirits under the name in 2011.

McCullock inherited the brand name from his ancestor, Kentucky distiller John W McCulloch, who began selling ‘Mountain Dew’ spirits in the 1800s.

Ole Smoky filed to register ‘Old Smoky Mountain Dew Moonshine’ as a trademark for distilled spirits in 2015, but received opposition from PepsiCo, which owns the carbonated soft drink brand Mountain Dew.

PepsiCo said it had used the marks ‘Mountain Dew’ and ‘Mtn Dew’ from as early as 1948 and 2009, respectively. It also said that Mountain Dew is one of the most renowned brands in the US.

On Monday (11 March), Ole Smoky filed a motion to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to remove the term ‘mountain dew’ from its pending federal trademark application for the mark ‘Ole Smoky Mountain Dew Moonshine’.

Now, the company claims that the term ‘mountain dew’ should be used by spirits brands as well as PepsiCo, and should not be exclusive to Ole Smoky.

Joe Baker, founder of Ole Smoky Distillery, said: “Ole Smoky Distillery was founded with the historical understanding that ‘mountain dew’ means moonshine and we strongly believe that no single corporation, including Ole Smoky, should have a monopoly over its use for moonshine.

“We know the term Mountain Dew evokes different cultural interpretations and references, but that does not void its original meaning and historical connection to spirits and moonshine culture.”

A Mountain Dew spokesperson told The Spirits Business: “Mountain Dew is one of the world’s most iconic and recognised brands, and has been since it was established more than 70 years ago.

“The planned unauthorised use of Mountain Dew by another party violates PepsiCo’s trademark rights, and we must vigorously protect our brand.”

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