Bud Light Lime-a-Rita not deceptive despite not being so light after all

Cruz v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., LLC, No. 15-56021, —
Fed.Appx. —-, 2017 WL 1019084 (9th Cir. Mar. 16, 2017)
Cruz sued Anheuser-Busch for the usual California claims,
alleging that the labels on cartons containing cans of “Rita” malt beverages,
including Lime-a-Rita, are misleading by using the word “Light,” because the
products contain considerably more calories and carbohydrates per ounce than
other Budweiser products.  The majority
found that no reasonable consumer would be deceived into thinking that “Bud
Light Lime Lime-a-Rita,” which the label calls a “Margarita With a Twist,” is a
low-calorie, low-carbohydrate beverage or that it contains fewer calories or
carbohydrates than a regular beer. It is was clear from the label that the
beverage wasn’t a normal beer: the label calls it a “Margarita With a Twist,” and
pictures a bright green drink, served over ice, in a margarita glass.
The majority concluded that a reasonable consumer might
compare “Bud Light Lime Lime-a-Rita” either to (a) a hypothetical product
“Budweiser Lime-a-Rita,” made with Budweiser instead of with Bud Light, or (b)
a tequila margarita. The hypothetical Bud product would contain more calories
and carbohydrates than the Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, while a tequila margarita
typically contains at least as many calories and carbohydrates as a “Bud Light
Lime Lime-a-Rita.”  

Judge Christen dissented, reasoning that a reasonable
consumer would naturally compare Bud Light Lime Lime-a-Rita with Bud Light
Lime. But Bud Light Lime has far fewer calories and carbohydrates. Judge
Christen didn’t think a reasonable consumer would hypothesize a nonexistent
beverage or compare a malt beverage to tequila. 
Thus, she would have found that reasonable consumers could be misled by
the “light” label.

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