6 November 2017Trademarks

Olive oil group fails to make advertising complaint stick

A US court has dismissed a complaint by trade group the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) that had accused olive oil producer Veronica Foods Company (VFC) of false advertising.

US District Judge Arthur Spatt dismissed the complaint in a  ruling (pdf) handed down at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Thursday, November 2.

“In the instant case, the NAOOA’s members have not been uniformly harmed. Whatever injury they may have suffered is particular to the unique circumstances of the individual member,” he stated in the ruling.

As reported by WIPR, the NAOOA filed a complaint in December 2016  accusing VFC and speciality retailers of product disparagement, false advertising, deceptive acts and practices, injury to business reputation, defamation and unfair competition.

The NAOOA has also tried to cancel a trademark owned by VFC.

The suit claimed that the companies had “published false and misleading statements about the quality and health benefits of the olive oil sold in supermarkets and elsewhere, including products sold by NAOOA members”.

VFC also introduced an alleged new “Ultra Premium” standard for olive oil—the UP certification—which the NAOOA said is “nothing more than a marketing effort by VFC to deceive olive oil purchasers”.

Spatt stated that “standing had not been established” in the complaint and that the NAOOA had failed to allege that any injuries had been incurred by any specific members.

“Generalised injury pleadings among the plaintiff’s members proliferate the complaint, but not a single member of NAOOA is tied to any of the alleged injuries,” he further stated.

Speaking with the Olive Oil Times, NAOOA executive director Joseph Profaci said the decision was not based on the underlying merits of the case but on a “technicality”.

“We disagree with the conclusion that the NAOOA does not have standing to sue on behalf of its members, and we are considering all of our options,” he stated.

“While we have nothing against Veronica Foods and other companies that market oils through speciality shops, we object to marketing practices that we believe are misleading to consumers,” he concluded.

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More on this story

21 December 2016   Trade group the North American Olive Oil Association has taken on olive oil producer Veronica Foods Company and speciality retail sellers in a lawsuit.