Patterson Belknap Secures Major Win For Coca Cola: Ninth Circuit Holds False Advertising Claims Against FDA-Authorized Label Are Barred

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held last week that The Coca Cola Company cannot be sued under the Lanham Act over the name and labeling of a juice product that is authorized by FDA regulations. In doing so, the Court handed Coca-Cola a significant victory in a hard-fought case waged by the maker of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.

In 2008, Pom Wonderful sued Coca-Cola alleging that the name and label of its Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices gives consumers the false impression that the product is mostly pomegranate and blueberry juice when, in fact, the product is a blend of juices that includes small amounts of pomegranate and blueberry juice for flavor. In naming and labeling the juice, however, Coca-Cola scrupulously followed the FDA's detailed regulations governing flavored juice blends. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Coca-Cola, holding that allowing Pom to use the Lanham Act to dispute an FDA-authorized juice label would undermine FDA's authority. The Ninth Circuit agreed.

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