WASHINGTON May 2 POM Wonderful told an appeals
court on Friday that U.S. federal regulators who determined the
company's advertising was misleading had overstepped in their
crackdown, but the juice maker got little comfort from the
In January 2013, the Federal Trade Commission said POM
Wonderful was deceptive in advertising that its pomegranate
juice and other products had been clinically proven to reduce
the risk of heart disease and other ailments. POM filed an
appeal with an appeals court in Washington.
Thomas Goldstein, arguing for POM Wonderful, said the
advertisements which most concerned the Federal Trade Commission
were discontinued in 2005 and others were halted in 2007.
And, he argued, the FTC went too far in demanding that the
company produce two randomized, controlled clinical trials
before saying that POM's pomegranate juice fights heart disease,
prostate cancer or other ailments.
The three appeals court justices gave him little comfort on
the issue of the advertisements themselves.
At one point, Judge Merrick Garland read a portion of an ad
aloud and said: "I don't understand if you look at those two
paragraphs how you can say that it's not misleading."
He also read aloud a disclaimer that POM included in a
second advertisement and said: "This is not at all good enough."
But the judges did seem concerned that requiring the
clinical trials for pomegranate juice -- a substance that cannot
be patented -- might be an overly expensive proposition even for
a luxury juice company.
Garland pressed FTC General Counsel Jonathan Nuechterlein,
who argued for the agency on why two studies were needed,
adding: "I'm not sure why you require two."
The FTC commissioners, in issuing their order, found that 36
advertisements were deceptive. An FTC judge had earlier found
false or deceptive claims in 19 advertisements or promotional
The advertisements for POM that the FTC challenged appeared
in such publications as Parade, Fitness and Prevention magazines
as well as online and on product tags, the FTC said.
In another case, POM Wonderful was at the Supreme Court in
late April accusing Coca-Cola Co's Minute Maid juice
label of being misleading for touting pomegranates and
blueberries for a drink that contains just a trace amount of
POM Wonderful had sued Coca-Cola, claiming Minute Maid was
misleading and would hurt sales for Pom Wonderful's 100-percent
pomegranate juice product.
The case against the FTC at the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit is POM Wonderful v the Federal Trade Commission
and is case No. 13-1060.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by David Gregorio)