In a unanimous decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled that consumers may possibly be misguided and tricked by the labeling on Minute Maid’s Pomegranate Blueberry flavored juice blend.
The Supreme Court granted that POM Wonderful can sue Coca-Cola with a lawsuit alleging false advertising to trick consumers, capturing a large share of POM’s pomegranate juice sales.
The lawsuit will more or less go down in the history as a modern tale of David and Goliath.
Recap: POM Vs Coca-Cola
POM makes 100% pomegranate juice along with a few other blends. The occasion of such an epic dispute arises from existing Minute Maid labels by Coca-Cola which has been preposterously branded as “Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% Juice Blend of 5 Juices”. The words “pomegranate” and “blueberry” have been given an elite status on the label. Despite the fact that other juices – grape, apple and raspberry contribute to a shocking 99.4% of the juice, there is no mention of it on the front of the bottle. Looking at the label, the Supreme Court ruled, that the labeling gives away as the product being primarily a juice made of pomegranate and blueberry, two antioxidants and expensive fruits. For health conscious consumer, the front labeling is disgustingly misleading and let’s be honest this particular product isn’t the only one in the market.
Coca-Cola made an attempt at some smart argument and quickly found itself in an awkward situation, bits of which can be found from Business Insider article here.
The groundbreaking Supreme Court’s judgment went against the verdict of two lower courts, which previously ruled against POM’s lawsuit based on the assertion that Minute Maid labels comply with FDA requirement.
Present Day: POM Vs Coca-Cola
The final decision will not permit POM Wonderful to proceed under the Lanham Act, which permits companies to file lawsuits due to unfair competitive practices. The Lanham Act prohibits false and misleading statements about a product.
The Bottom Line?
The incident will supposedly enable smaller companies to file class action lawsuits against larger corporation. The Supreme Court’s ruling will make it harder for companies to hide behind such misleading product labels. And let us all establish one fact here; there is no shortage of products in the market that parade aisles of superstores in deceiving labels. POM’s win will essentially open a wider window for honest, more truthful product labeling. It might not be too far from the future when we’d have companies adopting honest food labeling.
The transcript of the Coca-Cola/POM Court Ruling can be found here.