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Litigation: Product testing and puffery collide in new false advertising suit

Jeweler’s claims tread the line between exaggeration and misrepresentation

A new false advertising action filed by jewelry retailer Sterling Jewelers Inc. in the Northern District of Ohio (Sterling Jewelers Inc. v. Zale Corp.) presents a unique question about the line between puffery and misleading advertising claims, specifically claims based on product testing. The defendant in the case, Zale Corporation (Zales), also a jewelry retailer, recently began promoting its line of “Celebration Fire” diamonds as “The Most Brilliant Diamond in the World.” Some of its advertisements explain that the claim is “based on independent laboratory testing conducted in 2012 of round-cut diamonds from select leading national jewelry store chains.” 

Sterling challenges the truth of Zales’s claims, arguing in part that because the laboratory tests were limited to “diamonds from select leading national jewelry store chains,” Zales necessarily did not test all of the diamonds “in the world.” According to Sterling, “Zales’s claim that it has proven its Fire diamonds to be more brilliant than any other cut of diamond in the world can be true only if its Fire diamonds have been tested against every other cut of diamond in the world.”

Contributing Author

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Travis McCallon

Travis McCallon is a partner in Lathrop & Gage LLP’s Kansas City office. He concentrates his practice on intellectual property counseling and litigation, primarily focusing...

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