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Supreme Court: Competitor can sue Coca-Cola over pomegranate drink

Justice Anthony Kennedy notes in ruling against Coca-Cola that its Pomegranate Blueberry juice drink is mostly apple and grape.
By Frances Burns   |   June 12, 2014 at 2:23 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling Thursday, said Pom Wonderful can sue Coca-Cola, charging the soft drink giant is misleading consumers of a juice drink.

Pom Wonderful, which distributes a pomegranate juice drink, says that Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of Five Juices, distributed by the Coke subsidiary Minute Maid, is mostly apple and grape juice with pomegranate and blueberry juice less than 1 percent each.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the unanimous opinion, appeared to agree, saying that the label has pomegranate and blueberry in capital letters, with "flavored blend of five juices" in more modest type.

Much of Coca-Cola's argument was technical. Its lawyers said the label was in compliance with the federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, and Pom Wonderful could not sue it under another law, the Lanham Act.

Kennedy disagreed, saying that Congress has declined to appeal the Lanham Act, although the FDCA has been on the books since 1946.

"Allowing Lanham Act suits takes advantage of synergies among multiple methods of regulation," Kennedy wrote.

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