The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Monday ruled that Dr Pepper did not violate California consumer fraud laws by using the word “diet” in its brand name.
The complaint stated that consumers were promised by the diet label that the product “would ‘assist in weight loss’ or at least ‘not cause weight gain.'” As support, the complaint included various studies showing the artificial sweetener used in Diet Dr Pepper, aspartame, is linked with weight gain. It further cited dictionary definitions to show that “reasonable consumers understand the word ‘diet’ to promise assistance in weight loss.”
Because of the discrepancy between the diet label and the effects, the lawsuit claimed Dr Pepper violated a number of laws including: the California False Advertising Law, the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and the California Unfair Competition Law.
The court reasoned, though, that diet products are common in the marketplace and are used to distinguish the products as lower calorie than regular counterparts. Dictionary definitions for “diet soft drinks” state that they have fewer calories or utilize calorie-free sweeteners. The term diet does not “promise weight loss, healthy weight management, or other health benefits,” and such unreasonable interpretations by consumers do not make the term deceptive.