A Supreme Court ruling in favor of POM Wonderful in its false advertising case against Coca-Cola could generate a lot of sleepless nights for food and beverage manufacturers, says one legal expert.
The Supreme Court is considering a false advertising suit filed by POM under the Lanham Act accusing Coke of “willfully misleading consumers” by marketing a juice comprised almost entirely of apple & grape juice as ‘Pomegranate Blueberry' (Coke says it complies with federal juice labeling laws, which trump Lanham Act claims).
David L. Ter Molen, a partner in the Chicago offices of law firm Freeborn & Peters LLP, told FoodNavigator-USA: “This is about a conflict between two federal statutes.
"The Supreme Court could try to split the baby by offering some protection to food companies based on their compliance with FDA labeling regulations under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA), but allow the Lanham Act to come in in certain circumstances.
“But it’s my expectation that the ruling will ultimately go against Coke. And if that happens, everyone will have to rethink their marketing.
“It will not be enough just to comply with the letter of the law [in the naming of the product or the picture used on the label]. If the Supreme Court sides with POM there will no longer be that safe harbor. You have to consider the broader implications of the label.”
Click HERE to read the transcript of the oral arguments at the Supreme Court on April 21.