Pom v. Coke Will Impact Financial Services Too

Law 360, New York (June 23, 2014, 11:22 AM ET)--Legal and compliance departments, take note: the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Pom Wonderful LLC v.Coca-Cola Co. confirms that even i fan institution’s conduct meets the specific requirements established by the federal agency responsible for implementing one federal consumer protection law, it may nevertheless be considered unfairor deceptive under a different federal statutory scheme. Although the Pom opinion was written in response to alleged deceptive practices in the food and drug context, the high court’s reasoning has significant implications for a broad range of entities including financial institutions—that are subject to both specific consumer protection rules as well as more general prohibitions on unfair,deceptive or abusive conduct.

In Pom, the Supreme Court considered whether pomegranate juice producer and distributor Pom Wonderful could sue competitor Coca-Cola for unfair competition under the Lanham Act based on Coca-Cola’s use of an allegedly misleading label on a juice blend product. The Lanham Act authorizes one competitor to sue another for unfair competition arising from deceptive or misleading product descriptions. Specifically, Pom alleged Coca-Cola’s label, which prominently displays the words“pomegranate blueberry,” misleads consumers into believing the product consists predominantly of pomegranate and blueberry juice, when it actually contain only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice.

Originally Published on Law360 - June 23, 2014.

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