Supreme Court Hands Down Ruling in Major Pomegranate Juice Case

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

Supreme Court Hands Down Ruling in Major Pomegranate Juice Case

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

Bevlaw.com

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.
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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.