Why You Should Consider Keeping Your Case Out of the Courtroom: A Cautionary Tale From Coppertone vs. Neutrogena

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Litigation is expensive, time-consuming and fraught with risks. Why, then, would a company choose to repeatedly sue a competitor for false advertising? Despite the costs and consequences of litigation, it may be advantageous for a company to continuously attack its rival's advertising program. A successful false-advertising suit can result in an injunction against a competitor's advertising campaign, force it to spend millions of dollars in producing new or even corrective ads and possibly even provide damages awards to the plaintiff.

As recent rounds of false-advertising cases show, however, these potential rewards are extremely difficult to attain, and a plaintiff runs the very real risk of having its own advertising attacked and enjoined by a court. Are the competitive and marketplace advantages of challenging a rival's ad campaign worth the prospect of a vicious cycle of litigation? The annals of false-advertising litigation include an epic contest that sheds some light on this vexing question -- without providing a definitive answer. Battles like this, however, recast a familiar adage as follows: "People who live in glass houses should think twice before throwing stones."

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