POM Wonderful Wins Supreme Court Support in Coca Cola Lawsuit
WASHINGTON, DC - The Supreme Court unanimously awarded POM Wonderful LLC a victory today. It can continue its fall advertising lawsuit against Coca-Cola Co. concerning a juice blend offered by the Coke’s Minute Maid brand.
“Competitors who manufacture or distribute products have detailed knowledge regarding how consumers rely upon certain sales and marketing strategies,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. “Their awareness of unfair competition practices may be far more immediate and accurate than that of agency rulemakers and regulators.”
The decision was 8-0 with Justice Stephen Breyer recusing himself. In it, the court agreed that POM Wonderful could sue its competitor under the federal Lanham Act that permits civil action against anyone who “misrepresents the nature, characteristics or qualities” of the goods being sold, according to McClatchy DC News.
POM claimed Coca-Cola unfairly captured pomegranate juice sales by marketing a pomegranate-blueberry flavored juice blend from its Minute Maid unit that contains little actual pomegranate or blueberry. Instead, the juice is 99.4% apple and grape juices, according to Wall Street Journal’s Brent Kendall.
“If Lanham Act claims were to be precluded then commercial interests, and indirectly the public at large, could be left with less effective protection in the food and beverage labeling realm than in many other, less regulated industries,” Kennedy wrote.
POM filed a suit in 2008, and a lower appellate court rejected it, concluding that the federal Food and Drug Administration had effectively pre-empted labeling oversight. With today’s decision, the Supreme Court says otherwise.
Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to report on any further details on POM Wonderful's lawsuit against Coca-Cola.