Brian posted earlier about the Supreme Court's POM Wonderful decision but I thought readers of the blog might also be interested in the views of my co-author, Dee Pridgen:
POM Wonderful, the makers of pomegranate juice dietary supplement products, scored a big victory in the U S Supreme Court today The Court ruled 7-0 (with Justice Breyer abstaining) that the regulation of juice labeling by the FDA under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act did not preempt or preclude a Lanham Act unfair competition suit by POM against Coca-Cola, whose Minute Maid division sells a competing pomegranate juice blend product. The Court concluded that POM can move forward with its Lanham Act case because that statute is complementary to the FDCA, and not conflicting. POM, as a competitor, is contending in the Lanham Act suit, that Coca-Cola’s product labeling is misleading and causes competitive injury to them, on the basis that the Coca-Cola product contained only miniscule amounts of pomegranate juice, and is mostly apple and grape juice. POM Wonderful was itself sued a few years ago by the FTC, who alleged that POM was marketing its products deceptively by claiming that it cured or prevented heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction without having adequate substantiation. The FTC case is currently on appeal to the DC Circuit Court. Thus POM can now move forward with its claim that Coca-Cola was trying to unfairly horn in on the market for pomegranate juice products that POM had created based on unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of pomegranate juice. On the other hand, one has to quietly cheer for POM because the Coca-Cola label was breathtakingly misleading itself, at least in terms of the amount of pomegranate juice in the product.
Dee Pridgen will be speaking on these two POM cases at the 14th Consumer Issues Conference, FOOD: Perceptions, Practices and Policies, to be held on the campus of the University of Wyoming October 8-10. www.uwyo.edu/cic.