Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Monster Energy Drink Maker Can Sue Rival

(CN) - The maker of Monster energy drinks can proceed with its false advertising claims against rival Vital Pharmaceutical, which sells Redline power drinks and 7-Hour Energy Boost, a federal judge in San Diego ruled.

U.S. District Chief Judge Irma Gonzalez said there's conflicting evidence on whether certain claims by Vital Pharmaceutical, or VPX, are true. Those include claims that the drink Power Rush provides seven hours of energy, results in "no crash" and is "the #1 Energy Shot in Los Angeles."

Hansen Beverage Co., maker of Monster energy drinks and Hit Man energy shots, can also challenge VPX's claim that its Princess drink provides "mood enhancement" and "appetite suppression" that's "nothing short of euphoric," Gonzalez ruled. Hansen's expert studied how Princess affected 10 active adult females and concluded that the drink did not alter mood. The parties differ as to whether the St. John's Wort included in the drink actually suppresses appetite.

The energy drink sellers also presented conflicting AC Nielsen market reports for energy shots, which show a competitor's 5-Hour Energy and VPX's Power Rush as Los Angeles' highest seller.

But Gonzalez sided with VPX on five claims, saying Hansen either failed to respond to VPX's evidence or the claims were mere "puffery," or exaggeration on which no reasonable buyer would rely.

VPX won summary judgment on the following claims: Power Rush makes you "amped to the max in minutes, ready to tear apart the weights and wear out the treadmill like a tiger released from its cage!"; Redline Xtreme is "university research proven" to deliver "a significant 7.5% improvement reaction time," "a dramatic 13% increase in energy" and "an amazing 15% increase in focus," and that it "dramatically enhances focus and energy"; Redline was ranked "sixth in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix and seventh in Dallas"; and Redline is "growing 16 times faster than the National Average for Energy Drinks" and had "100 times the growth rate of Red Bull and Monster in L.A."

VPX also won dismissal of Hansen's trade libel claims, because Hansen couldn't prove that business had suffered based on VPX's allegedly false statements about sales rankings, Gonzalez ruled.

She left the issue of damages for a later date, after additional discovery.

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