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


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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