Pizza Hut Appeals Ad Case to Supreme Court

ByABC News
December 22, 2000, 11:26 AM

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 lowercourts ruling and stop competitor Papa Johns International Inc.from using the slogan, Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, whichPizza Hut says isnt true.

Dallas-based Pizza Hut, the nations largest pizza chain, saysit has waged a two-year battle against Papa Johns to upholdtruth-in-advertising.

Papa Johns calls the whole spat ridiculous.

The American public doesnt need the Supreme Court to tellthem which pizza they like better, said Papa Johns spokeswomanKaren Sherman.

Whos Got the Best Stuff?The case might seem like small potatoes to the justices, whoonly last week issued a ruling that ensured George W. Bushselection as president. But in the pizza business, this is an extralarge with all the toppings.

Pizza Hut, the nations largest pizza chain, sued No. 3 PapaJohns in 1998 about the slogan and some commercials that suggestedPapa Johns used better stuff in its pies.

A jury sided mostly with Pizza Hut, and a federal magistrateordered Papa Johns to stop using the slogan and never againcompare its product to Pizza Huts.

But in September, three judges in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals overturned the verdict, ruling that the Papa Johns sloganis puffery an exaggerated advertising claim that didnt deceiveconsumers by itself.

Robert Millen, Pizza Hut general counsel, said the appellatejudges twisted federal false-advertising laws. He said Papa Johnsown research, admitted during the trial, showed the ads convincedconsumers that Papa Johns made better pies meaning the adswerent just puffery.

This is about our ability to prevent our brand from beingfalsely disparaged by Papa Johns or any other competitor, Millensaid.