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Clorox's latest attempt to rid itself of a cat litter lawsuit over its Fresh Step brand were only partly successful.
On Friday a federal court judge dismissed part of the suit against Clorox's kitty litter but it didn't end litigation. The ruling is part of a long legal process over ads Clorox used for its Fresh Step product.
The issues began when a competitor sued Clorox for false advertising. That case settled out of court but it sparked the current suit which was brought by consumers.
The suit was originally for false advertising in two aspects of Clorox's ad, according to Reuters. After Friday's ruling, only one piece of the claim remains.
Consumers contested the claims that cats were 'smart enough' to choose Fresh Step and that Clorox's brand of cat litter was better at eliminating odors. U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti threw out the claims with respect to whether cats choose Fresh Step.
The claims about Clorox's representation of its effectiveness will continue.
The progression of this case shows how unfair characterization of competitors can lead to bigger legal problems down the road. Comparisons to other brands without proof can give other companies a legal footing to challenge those claims.
A lawsuit can publicize the issue and lead consumers to want a piece of the action.
That's what happened in this case. Cat litter owners got the news about Clorox's ads from a competitor's lawsuit, reports Reuters. They then filed their own class action suit against the maker of Fresh Step.
It's a good example for advising clients on the dangers of false advertising. Claiming measurable success when you don't have facts to back it up seems to exceed the limits of acceptable 'puffery,' at least in this case.
For now the Fresh Step cat litter lawsuit will continue which is bad news for Clorox. Don't forget this lesson next time your company comes up with a new ad campaign.