Farella Braun + Martel Wins Important Victory for Businesses Prosecuting False Advertising Claims
Companies May Defend Their Business Against Competitors' False Advertising Without Being Subjected to Anti-SLAPP Motions
SAN FRANCISCO, April 16, 2010 - Farella Braun +Martel secured, in an appellate decision certified for publication, an important victory for businesses that must prosecute false advertising claims against their competitors' and associated third-party organizations.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the nation's leading liquid soap brand, filed a suit against some of its competitors, which are alleged to have falsely labeled their products as organic, and the trade association "Oasis," which is made up of some of the defendants in Dr. Bronner's suit. Oasis purports to certify (only its members') products as "Oasis Organic," pursuant to its own standard.
Oasis brought an anti-SLAPP motion, which the Dr. Bronner's team defeated in the trial court. Farella defeated it again in the First District Court of Appeals.
In a published opinion, released April 14, the First District largely accepted Farella's analysis of the proper application of the anti-SLAPP statute in the context of a trade association's promotional activities of its members' products, an issue not squarely addressed in any prior published opinions. In denying Oasis' anti-SLAPP motion, the Court of Appeals held that Oasis' certification only promotes the sale of Oasis-members' products and was not "true third-party endorsement or criticism, in the nature of consumer protection information"; nor did the certification contribute to the broader debate on the meaning of the term "organic."
The Court of Appeal's opinion affirms that companies may defend their business against false advertising from their competitors without being subjected to an anti-SLAPP motion, including an anti-SLAPP motion brought by a trade association or related third-party organization.
Attorneys representing Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps are John Cooper of San Francisco's Farella Braun + Martel and Joseph Sandler of Washington D.C.'s Sandler Reiff & Young PC. John Cooper argued the appeal; assisting him on the brief was Farella Braun + Martel attorney Morgan Jackson.
More about Dr. Bronner's lawsuit and "organic" labeling of personal care products is available on Dr. Bronner's Web site at http://www.drbronner.com/usda_organic_body_care.html
Farella Braun + Martel represents clients throughout the United States and abroad in sophisticated business transactions and high-stakes commercial, civil and criminal litigation. Founded in 1962, the firm is headquartered in San Francisco and maintains an office in the Napa Valley focused on the wine industry. Farella Braun + Martel lawyers are known for their imaginative legal solutions, dynamism and intellectual creativity. With an unwavering service ethic and interdisciplinary team approach, the firm is committed to advancing clients' objectives in the most effective, coordinated and efficient manner. Farella Braun + Martel is a green business. www.fbm.com
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