Court rules for Pom Wonderful in dispute with Coke
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In a statement, Pom's parent company Roll Global said the decision "will translate into higher assurance for consumers that the labels on beverage and food are accurate."
The court also rejected Coke's argument that allowing a deceptive labeling claim would interfere with national uniformity under FDA laws. Kennedy said Congress chose to allow challenges under trademark law "to enforce a national policy to ensure fair competition."
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Justice Stephen Breyer took no part in the case.
Lower courts had ruled in favor of Coke because the label conforms to the law and to Food and Drug Administration rules. But the Supreme Court reversed, finding that the juice label may technically comply with FDA rules but may still mislead consumers for different reasons.
WASHINGTON Coca Cola's version of pomegranate juice is not quite the real thing, and a competitor has another chance to prove it in court.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Nike Shoes Air Max Womens 90
apple and grape juice.
The food and beverage industry had expressed concerns that a ruling for Pom would lead to greater uncertainty about labeling requirements and lead to a flurry of new lawsuits.
In a separate case, the federal government has filed a deceptive advertising case against Pom for claiming that its pomegranate juice can treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and other illnesses. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an Nike Air Max 90 Red Hyperfuse eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.
Coke's lawyer claimed during oral arguments that it would be a "logistical nightmare" for food companies to have to change labels in response to every private lawsuit. The beverage giant says the federal government, not competitors, should be enforcing uniform label requirements.
Coke released a statement saying it is "committed to clear labeling that fully complies with FDA regulations." The company said it would defend against Nike Air Max 90 Infrared
Pom, which faces deceptive advertising claims of its own, filed its lawsuit against Coke in 2008 after it began losing market share to Minute Maid's "Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices" drink. The drink's label shows the words "Pomegranate Blueberry" in much larger type than the rest of the phrase and includes a prominent picture of large pomegranate set among other fruits. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Coke, finding that food labeling laws preclude private lawsuits under trademark law.
The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with juice maker Pom Wonderful in its long running false advertising dispute with the Coca Cola Co., a decision that could open the door to more litigation against food makers for deceptive labeling.
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The justices ruled 8 0 that Pom can go forward with a lawsuit alleging the label on a "Pomegranate Blueberry" beverage offered by Coke's Minute Maid unit is misleading because 99 percent of the drink is Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Infrared
"Now a company could make sure its label complies with FDA regulation, but that doesn't mean they won't get sued," said Vetesi, who is not involved in the case. "This chips away at the primacy of the FDA."
wrote the court's opinion, appeared to have telegraphed his position back in April when he said at oral argument that the label even misled him into thinking the drink was mostly pomegranate juice. His opinion Thursday focused on the juice's details, noting that the product contained only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, 0.2 percent blueberry juice and 0.1 percent raspberry juice.
Claudia Vetesi, a San Francisco attorney specializing in false advertising class action lawsuits, said the decision could lead to an increase in "business to business litigation" over food labeling.
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Kennedy said the law governing regulation of food and drug labels does not preclude a competitor from suing under a different law the Lanham Act for unfair competition based on false or misleading claims. He said federal food and trademark laws complement each other in the regulation of misleading labels.
Pom's lawsuit and show "that our product was not the cause of Pom's poor sales."
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