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


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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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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