High Court tightens Lanham Act’s false advertising prohibitions

KWIKA partner Greg Korn was quoted by Law360 in its compilation of attorney comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 12 ruling regarding Pom Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co. Pom, a beverage company whose offerings include a pomegranate blueberry juice, sued the beverage giant for false advertising over Coke’s version of a drink purporting to be primarily a pomegranate blueberry mixture.

Greg comments:

“The U.S. Supreme Court in Pom Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co. reversed a decision
of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and held that the federal [FDCA] does not preclude
false advertising claims under the Lanham Act which challenge the mislabeling of food
products. The court held that the FDCA and Lanham Act instead ‘complement’ each
other. The fact that the U.S. government is vested with exclusive enforcement of the
mislabeling of products in violation of the FDCA does not prevent the filing of private
lawsuits under the Lanham Act where those same misrepresentations can cause
commercial injury to ‘competitors.’ The court’s ruling allows Pom to proceed on a claim that Coca-Cola has falsely advertised a ‘pomegranate blueberry’ drink which, to quote the court, ‘[i]n truth . . . contains but 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice.’”