Cottrell, Ltd. v. Biotrol Int'l, Inc.
Citation: 30 ELR 20151
No. No. 97-1475, 191 F.3d 1248/(10th Cir., 09/23/1999)
The court holds that a cleaning product company may pursue its Lanham Act claims against a competitor for allegedly making false and misleading representations on its product label. The court first holds that the district court properly dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) the company's claim that certain representations made on the competitor's advertisements violate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clearance obtained under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA is exclusively enforced by EPA, and the company's claim is an attempt to enforce FIFRA's labeling requirements. Moreover, a determination on the scope of EPA clearance would require EPA expertise, and the company's claim fails to allege any false advertising. However, the court then holds that the company alleged sufficient facts to support a Lanham Act claim independent of FIFRA in its claim that the competitor's advertising deceives customers. Although the claim touches on issues covered by FIFRA, nowhere does FIFRA explicitly preclude Lanham Act coverage. Similarly, the court also holds that the company alleged sufficient facts to state a claim under the Lanham Act with respect to its claim that the competitor falsely represented that its product could be used seven days after mixing. This type of claim is at the core of what the Lanham Act's false advertising prohibition makes actionable. The court, therefore, reverses the district court's dismissal of these claims.
Counsel for Plaintiff
Howard J. Beck
Beck & Cassinis
3025 S. Parker Rd., Ste. 200, Aurora CO 80014
Counsel for Defendants
Richard A. Johnson
Porzak, Browning & Johnson
929 Pearl St., Ste. 300, Boulder CO 80302
Before Briscoe and Lucero, JJ.