What's the likelihood that consumers will be misled into thinking that a candy is "all natural" when you don't make any "natural" claims about the product? That was the issue in a recent case brought against Starbucks.
In Brown v. Starbucks, the plaintiff alleged that when bought Starbucks' "Sour Gummies" candy, she was misled into believing that the product only contained natural ingredients because the packaging states, "Apple, watermelon, tangerine, and lemon flavored candies." The plaintiff alleged that, in order to prevent consumers from being deceived, Starbucks should have indicated on the front of the packaging that the gummies contained artificial ingredients.
Starbucks moved to dismiss the compliant, arguing that reasonable consumers would not be misled the packaging. The United States District Court for the Southern District of California agreed, and dismissed the case. Here's why.
The court said that the plaintiff did not allege that the packaging contains any literally false statements.
The court also said that common sense dictates that no reasonable consumer would be misled by the packaging. The court explained that the plaintiff had failed to plausibly allege that Starbucks' fruit flavors statement would lead a consumer to believe that the gummies contain only natural ingredients. The court also pointed to the fact that, "Nothing about the product itself -- a brightly-colored gelatinous candy -- would lead a reasonable consumer to conclude that the Gummies contain only natural ingredients."
In addition, the court said that the packaging didn't present a "front-back" bait-and-switch problem, since there was nothing on the front of the packaging that suggested that the product contains only natural ingredients.
Finally, the court noted that the plaintiff had not alleged that the nature of the product's brand name is misleading.
This case should provide some comfort to marketers who want to promote certain healthy attributes of their products without mentioning other less healthy aspects of them.
"Nothing about the product itself -- a brightly-colored gelatinous candy -- would lead a reasonable consumer to conclude that the Gummies contain only natural ingredients"