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Eastman Chemical Co. v. PlastiPure, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
775 F.3d 230 (2014)


Facts

Eastman Chemical Company (plaintiff) manufactured plastic for use in bottles and food containers. Eastman’s plastic was an alternative to the polycarbonate plastic traditionally used in consumer products. Polycarbonate contained bisphenol A (BPA), and consumers became concerned that BPA was harmful to their health. Eastman conducted a study confirming that its plastics did not contain BPA, or any chemicals that contain estrogen activity (EA). PlastiPure, Inc. (defendant) was a competitor of Eastman and manufactured a different plastic that did not contain BPA or EA. PlastiPure was affiliated with CertiChem, Inc., which conducted a scientific study on various plastics, including Eastman’s. CertiChem published a scholarly article summarizing the results. The article did not mention Eastman’s plastics by name. Prior to the publication of the article, PlastiPure produced an advertising brochure that it passed out at trade shows and to potential clients. The brochure stated that Eastman’s plastics contained EA. Eastman sued PlastiPure for false advertising. PlastiPure argued that its statement was open to scientific debate and thus immune from the Lanham Act. A jury found that PlastiPure’s statements about Eastman’s products were false. The district court granted Eastman an injunction. PlastiPure appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Elrod, J.)

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