Supreme Court Hands Down Ruling in Major Pomegranate Juice Case

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Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 12 2014 1:59 PM

Supreme Court Hands Down Ruling in Major Pomegranate Juice Case

Your honor, the plaintiffs assert that this juice was squeezed from the fruit of the Dishonesty Tree.

The Pom Wonderful company, a purveyor of pomegranate juices, can sue Coca-Cola for marketing a competing "Pomegranate Blueberry" juice that is 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice, the Supreme Court ruled today. From the court's decision:

POM competes in the pomegranate-blueberry juice market with the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola, underits Minute Maid brand, created a juice blend containing 99.4% apple and grape juices, 0.3% pomegranate juice, 0.2% blueberry juice, and 0.1% raspberry juice. Despite the minuscule amount of pomegranate and blueberry juices in the blend, the front label of the Coca-Cola product displays the words “pomegranate blueberry” in all capital letters, on two separate lines. Below those words, Coca-Cola placed the phrase “flavored blend of 5 juices” in much smaller type.

The court wasn't actually deciding whether the advertising was misleading—though during oral arguments the consensus seemed to be that it was—but whether the lack of federal regulatory action against Coca-Cola over the label meant that the government had implicitly approved it, thus precluding Pom's suit. Eight of the Court's juice-tices (hahahahaha) ruled unanimously that Pom could sue. (Stephen Breyer recused himself. Coverage of the case did not make clear why he did so.)

Correction, June 12, 2014: This post originally stated in error that nine Court justices ruled in Pom's favor. The number was eight because of Stephen Breyer's recusal.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.


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