Here's a recent New York ruling worth sniffing. Judge Jed S. Rakoff temporarily barred Clorox from airing its cat litter ads. He agreed with Clorox rival Church & Dwight's assessment that the ads would cause irreparable harm.
Church & Dwight makes Arm & Hammer cat litter. The company sued Clorox for running ads that said carbon-treated cat litter was better at combating odors compared to baking soda.
In Clorox's case, it was their testing method that received skepticism from the court. Their claim of supremacy was based on a smell test.
Clorox gave panelists jars of cat excrement that was treated with carbon and baking soda. They were then asked to rank the odor. None of the panelists said the carbon-treated cat feces were smelly.
"It's highly implausible that 11 panelists would stick their noses in jars of excrement and report 44 independent times that they smelled nothing unpleasant," Judge Rakoff wrote.
He then issued the preliminary injunction against the cat litter ad. Clorox will no longer be allowed to air the commercial while the lawsuit continues.
What should attorneys take away from this preliminary ruling? For one, be extra careful when dealing with advertisements making claims concerning a rival company. Ensure that your claims are backed by a plausible -- and reliable -- test.
You wouldn't want your company's ad stifled by a preliminary injunction like the Clorox cat litter ad.
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