Attorney on POM v Coke: It’s my expectation that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule against Coca-Cola

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

POM says Coke is willfully misleading shoppers in its juice labeling; Coke begs to differ
POM says Coke is willfully misleading shoppers in its juice labeling; Coke begs to differ

Related tags: Supreme court, Supreme court of the united states, Advertising

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. Andif 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​, HERE​ and HERE​ for more coverage of the Pom v Coke case.

Click HERE​ to read the transcript of the oral arguments at the Supreme Court on April 21.

Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry
POM is suing Coca-Cola for false advertising under the Lanham Act, alleging it is “willfully misleading consumers” by marketing a Minute Maid juice comprised almost entirely of apple and grape juice as ‘Pomegranate Blueberry' (this is followed by the phrase, 'Flavored Blend of 5 Juices' in smaller type underneath). Despite the name, says POM, the beverage contains just 0.3% pomegranate juice, 0.2% blueberry juice, 0.1% raspberry juice, and 99.4% apple & grape juice.

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