POM, Coca-Cola dispute reaches Supreme Court

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 10 agreed to hear a dispute in which POM Wonderful, L.L.C. accuses The Coca-Cola Co. of deceptive labeling and advertising for a pomegranate blueberry juice.

The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, in September 2007 launched a Minute Maid “Pomegranate Blueberry” juice product that consisted of 0.3% pomegranate juice and 0.2% blueberry juice. The juice in the product consisted mostly of apple juice and grape juice.

In September 2008 Los Angeles-based POM Wonderful sued Coca-Cola under the Lanham Act and California law. POM Wonderful said Coca-Cola’s labeling misled consumers regarding the amount of pomegranate and blueberry juice in the product.

The case eventually reached a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court in 2012 ruled in favor of The Coca-Cola Co. and denied a POM Wonderful petition to rehear the case. The court of appeals held that a private party cannot bring a Lanham Act claim challenging a product label regulated under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The court said the pomegranate blueberry juice label was subject to regulation by Food and Drug Administration under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

POM Wonderful filed a petition for a “writ of certiorari” (a document that a losing party files with the Supreme Court asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court). The Supreme Court granted it.

POM Wonderful produces, markets and sells POM Wonderful brand bottled pomegranate juice and various pomegranate juice blends. The ingredient list for a POM Wonderful pomegranate blueberry juice blend says it is 85% pomegranate and 15% blueberry juices from concentrate along with natural flavors.
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