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Commercial litigation against Coca-Cola moves forward

Las Vegas businesses must operate in accordance with all relevant state and federal laws and regulations. Sometimes the intersection of two or more statutes can lead to technical legal issues, and in many instances the survival of a lawsuit depends on how courts interpret the interaction of those laws.

Pom Wonderful has won one battle in its commercial litigation against Coca-Cola’s Pomegranate Blueberry drink. In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the Lanham Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act work together, and that one does not preempt the other. This reverses the decisions of lower courts, which had previously dismissed the case on the grounds that juice label regulation is under the purview of the FDA.

With this victory, Pom Wonderful is free to pursue a false advertising claim against Coca-Cola. Specifically, Pom is taking issue with the Pomegranate Blueberry label. According to the plaintiff company, the drink’s name suggests that it is largely made of these two fruit juices. However, it is in fact over 99 percent grape and apple juice. In addition to the arguably misleading name, the product’s label also prominently features pictures of pomegranates and blueberries.

Business disputes can often be multifaceted, incorporating elements of false advertising, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and intellectual property issues. Because of the complications involved in pursuing claims that may interact with more than one law, it may be beneficial to discuss the full breadth of a potential lawsuit with an attorney as soon as a corporate dispute is identified.

Source: The New York Times, “Supreme Court Says Coca-Cola Can Be Sued Over Juice Drink,” Adam Liptak, June 12, 2014. 

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