Fresh Del Monte Produce has won a false advertising and breach of contract lawsuit against fellow US food group Del Monte Foods.
Fresh fruit and vegetable company Fresh Del Monte has a perpetual royalty-free agreement with privately-held pantry staple maker Del Monte Foods (also known as Del Monte Corporation), to use the Del Monte name in certain product categories worldwide. The deal originates with the 1989 sale of the fresh fruit business, which was renamed Fresh Del Monte Produce. Although no longer affiliated with Del Monte Foods, Del Monte Produce continued to market Del Monte pineapples, bananas, and other produce under a licensing agreement.
After a two week trial, a jury found in favour of Fresh Del Monte on Friday (6 April), the company said. The jury returned a unanimous verdict concluding Fresh Del Monte has the exclusive right under the firms’ licensing agreement to use the Del Monte trademark on certain refrigerated preserved fruits. Fresh Del Monte was awarded damages of US$13.2m.
Additionally, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in Fresh Del Monte’s favour on five out of six false advertising claims it was asked to consider. The court found that Del Monte Foods’ sale and marketing of refrigerated preserved fruit products “misled consumers” into believing the products were fresh fruit, and that Del Monte Foods wilfully violated the Lanham Act.