The Supreme Court has been on a tear over the past several weeks, putting to bed some of the most pressing cases that cropped up in the last session. In addition to answering big questions surrounding securities class actions and intellectual property suits, the Court has also weighed in on POM Wonderful’s ongoing battle with Coca-Cola, giving more direction about when labeling claims are protected by federal regulations. While the decision from SCOTUS is only a few weeks old, the months and years to come will be a true testament to how impactful this case will be to the food industry.
At the heart of the issue is POM's assertion that Coke’s Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry flavored drink carried an intentionally misleading name because the juice blend contained only 0.3 percent pomegranate and 0.2 percent blueberry juice. POM claimed this allegedly misleading name could lure customers away from its drinks despite Coke’s compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling standards.
“The ruling itself was very specific in its application,” says Goldstein. “The court made it very clear that this ruling was limited to preemption of the Lanham Act by FDA law. However, the same principles could easily apply to labeling regulations of other government agencies. For example, the EPA regulates the claims made on packaging for products such as household cleaners, and also sets standards for when certain types of claims can be made.”