Another Decision in a POM Wonderful CaseAugust 1, 2010
By Susan J. Matthees –
POM Wonderful is still in court. The maker of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice brought suit against Coca-Cola, alleging the Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% Juice Blend is misleading and deceptive to consumers because the name suggests that the product is primarily pomegranate and blueberry, when in fact, according to POM Wonderful, the product contains only 0.3% pomegranate juice and 0.2% blueberry juice. POM brought claims based on California state law for unfair competition and the federal Lanham Act. As we have reported previously (here, here, and here), POM has been active in litigating numerous cases involving pomegranate juice claims.
The United States District Court for the Central District of California recently granted Coca-Cola’s motion for summary judgment with regard to state law claims that POM lost money as a result of unfair competition. The court explained that POM cannot show that it actually lost money or property because POM does not have vested shares of the pomegranate juice market and cannot recover for a mere “expectancy” of profits. The court also granted Coca-Cola’s motion for summary judgment with regard to POM’s Lanham Act claims for the naming and labeling of the Minute Maid juice because the name and labeling “comports with the relevant” Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act provisions and FDA regulations. The court also granted Coca-Cola’s motion for summary judgment with regard to POM’s Lanham Act claims that the fruit vignettes on the juice label violate the Lanham Act, explaining that the fruit vignettes are not misleading under FDA’s rules. However, the court concluded that POM should have the opportunity to demonstrate that Coca-Cola intentionally misled consumers.