Pizza Hut Appeals Ad Case to Supreme Court
D A L L A S, Dec. 23 -- A feud between two big pizza chains overtelevision commercials could be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Pizza Hut this week asked the high court to overturn a lowercourt’s ruling and stop competitor Papa John’s International Inc.from using the slogan, “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza,” whichPizza Hut says isn’t true.
Dallas-based Pizza Hut, the nation’s largest pizza chain, saysit has waged a two-year battle against Papa John’s to upholdtruth-in-advertising.
Papa John’s calls the whole spat ridiculous.
“The American public doesn’t need the Supreme Court to tellthem which pizza they like better,” said Papa John’s spokeswomanKaren Sherman.
Who’s Got the ‘Best Stuff’?The case might seem like small potatoes to the justices, whoonly last week issued a ruling that ensured George W. Bush’selection as president. But in the pizza business, this is an extralarge with all the toppings.
Pizza Hut, the nation’s largest pizza chain, sued No. 3 PapaJohn’s in 1998 about the slogan and some commercials that suggestedPapa John’s used better stuff in its pies.
A jury sided mostly with Pizza Hut, and a federal magistrateordered Papa John’s to stop using the slogan and never againcompare its product to Pizza Hut’s.
But in September, three judges in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals overturned the verdict, ruling that the Papa John’s sloganis puffery — an exaggerated advertising claim that didn’t deceiveconsumers by itself.
Robert Millen, Pizza Hut general counsel, said the appellatejudges twisted federal false-advertising laws. He said Papa John’sown research, admitted during the trial, showed the ads convincedconsumers that Papa John’s made better pies — meaning the adsweren’t just puffery.
“This is about our ability to prevent our brand from beingfalsely disparaged by Papa John’s or any other competitor,” Millensaid.