The Supreme Court unanimously voted Thursday in favor of advancing POM Wonderful’s false advertising lawsuit against Coca-Cola.
POM’s suit asserts that Coke misled consumers when advertising a Minute Maid beverage as a “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices.” Coke’s pomegranate-blueberry blend violated the Lanham Trademark Act — which prohibits false advertising statements on products — because the drink contains only 0.5% of the two juices, POM argues.
Eight Supreme Court judges (Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case) unanimously overturned two lower courts rulings that the FDA’s approval of the drink should stand.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court, arguing that the FDA’s decision did not preclude all other trademark laws because the governmental agency “does not have the same perspective or expertise in assessing market dynamics that day-to-day competitors possess.”
POM’s lawsuit also alleged that Coke’s drink, which is 99 percent apple and grape juices, hurt sales of its own 100 percent pomegranate juice. The Court’s green light to the case means more details of the juicy argument will unfold in the coming months.