The US Supreme Court has agreed to rule on whether the federal Lanham Act governs a case involving labeling of a product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

POM Wonderful LLC and Coca-Cola Co. are engaged in a dispute over Coca-Cola’s labeling of a drink as “pomegranate blueberry juice.”

The drink’s label says “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices,” and the first two words are in bigger letters.

POM, which makes its own pomegranate-based juice drinks, claims that Cola-Cola misled consumers into believing that the Coca-Cola drink contained mostly pomegranate and blueberry juice.

POM claims that the label is misleading because the drink actually contains only .3% pomegranate juice and .2% blueberry juice. Apple and grape juice are 99% of the drink’s ingredients.

Coca-Cola says the drink’s label is accurate in that it tells consumers that the drink is a fruit juice blend and tastes like pomegranate and blueberry.

A district court had ruled in favor of Coca-Cola. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, found that POM might have standing to pursue state-law claims against Coca-Cola but upheld the lower court’s decision against POM on federal law grounds.

The Supreme Court will decide if the Ninth Circuit mistakenly concluded that POM, as a private entity, was not allowed to file a complaint under the Lanham Act since the juice drink was regulated by the FDA under the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The federal Lanham Act prohibits false designations of origin (including counterfeit trademarks), false descriptions, and trademark dilution.  It forbids misrepresentations about “the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin” of “goods, services, or commercial activities.”

The Ninth Circuit had said that “we must respect the FDA’s apparent decision not to impose the requirements urged by Pom.”

The case is expected to be decided by the end of June.

How Can I Help?

If you have concerns about product labeling and trademark law, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

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