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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Jury Sides With Coke in POM’s Juice Spat

LOS ANGELES (CN) - POM Wonderful didn't persuade a jury that competitor Coca-Cola misled consumers by selling a Minute Maid drink with more apple and grape juice than the pomegranate and blueberry displayed prominently on bottles and in marketing.

Jurors delivered the verdict in favor of Coke in the trademark infringement case on Monday after a seven-day trial in U.S. District Judge James Otero's courtroom in downtown Los Angeles.

POM accused Coca-Cola of false advertising and unfair competition in eight years ago, claiming that packaging and marketing for Coke's Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry drink deceived consumers.

The volume of pomegranate juice ranked third behind apple and grape juice in the drink and blueberry juice ranked fifth, POM said in court papers.

Coca-Cola discontinued the Minute Maid product in 2014 after poor sales.

As part of its defense, Coke told jurors that POM had "unclean hands" because its juices are more concentrated than POM represents, and that it has made health claims unsupported by science.

In early 2009, a federal judge partially ruled for Coca-Cola and threw out POM's claim of false advertising in the naming and labeling on the Minute Maid bottle.

After appealing to the Ninth Circuit, POM won a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 which revived the company's claims.

After the jury delivered the verdict, Otero ordered Coke to file a proposed judgment.

In a statement, POM Wonderful said that it was "disappointed" and believed Coca-Cola had "intentionally confused consumers."

"Food and beverage manufacturers have a responsibility to provide honest and accurate information about what's in their products, and consumers have a right not to be deceived by products which aren't as they appear," the company said.

Coke did not immediately respond to emails on Tuesday.

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