Supreme Court Allows Lanham Act Competitor Claims Challenging Federally Regulated Food and Beverage Labels

On June 12, 2014, in a unanimous opinion of the eight justices taking part in the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that competitors may bring unfair competition claims under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125, to challenge food and beverage labels that are also regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 321(f), 331 (FDCA). The decision confirms that Lanham Act false advertising claims involving food and beverage labels brought by competitors are not precluded merely because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated in the same area. The court emphasized that the decision did not address the preemption of state laws, which frequently form the basis for consumer class actions against the food and beverage industry.

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