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ALPO Petfoods, Inc. v. Ralston Purina Co.

913 F.2d 958 (1990)

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ALPO Petfoods, Inc. v. Ralston Purina Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

913 F.2d 958 (1990)

Facts

Pet-food manufacturers ALPO Petfoods, Inc. (ALPO) (plaintiff) and Ralston Purina Co. (Ralston) (defendant) sued each other, alleging false advertising in violation of the Lanham Act. ALPO’s allegations were based on Ralston’s claim that Ralston’s Puppy Chow could lessen the severity of a debilitating joint condition in dogs, while Ralston’s allegations were based on ALPO’s claim that ALPO Puppy Food contained a formula preferred by veterinarians. After a 61-day bench trial, the district court concluded that both ALPO’s and Ralston’s advertisements had violated the Lanham Act. Specifically, the court found that Ralston had run its ads even though the claims about the joint condition lacked solid empirical support. The court made no express finding that Ralston had acted willfully or in bad faith. The court permanently enjoined ALPO and Ralston from making any further advertising claims similar to the false claims at issue in the litigation and ordered both companies to issue corrective statements. The court further awarded both parties costs and attorney fees, and it also awarded ALPO $10.4 million of Ralston’s profits as damages for the financial harm ALPO had suffered from Ralston’s advertising. The court awarded no further damages to Ralston because the court found that the magnitude of Ralston’s conduct far exceeded ALPO’s conduct and that Ralston had shown no remorse. Ralston appealed, and the appellate court considered the various remedies awarded by the district court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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