Round One Legal Victory for Organic Consumers and Dr. Bronner's against "Organic Cheater" Personal Care Brands and Certifiers
Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, 10/13/08
After hearing oral arguments earlier this month, the San Francisco County Superior Court on Thursday Oct. 8th ruled that Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps can proceed with its lawsuit seeking to compel organic cheater companies & certifiers to drop, or stop certifying, deceptive organic label and brand claims. Culprit brands include:
Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic"
Nature's Gate "Organics"
Kiss My Face "Obsessively Organic"
Giovanni "Organic Cosmetics"
Desert Essence "Organics"
Stella McCartney's CARE "100% Organic".
The culprit certifiers are OASIS and Ecocert; Estee Lauder is also a defendant due to its expressed intent to enter the market under its Aveda brand with misleading OASIS certified "organic" products.
The 800,000 supporter strong Organic Consumers Association has played a leading role in exposing and educating consumers about deceptive organic branding, and is a party in the litigation with Ecocert. The Court turned aside the defendants' arguments that Dr. Bronner's, in its complaint filed with the Court, hadn't sufficiently spelled out how actual consumers, the company and competition in the organic personal care industry have been hurt by the defendants' deceptive practices. The Court also rejected a claim by OASIS that its deceptive certification could be protected as free speech. In so ruling, the Court moved the case closer to full consideration of the merits of Dr. Bronner's claims.
Organic consumers expect that the main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients in soaps, shampoos and body washes that are labeled "Organic", "Organics" or "Made with Organic" will be made from organic as distinct from conventional agricultural material, produced without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and be free of petrochemical compounds.
Dr. Bronner's products, in contrast to defendants' products, contain cleansing and moisturizing ingredients made only from certified organic oils, made without any use of petrochemicals, and contain no petrochemical preservatives. The misleading organic noise created by culprit companies' branding and labeling practices, interferes with organic consumers ability to distinguish personal care whose main ingredients are in fact made with certified organic, not conventional or petrochemical, material, free of synthetic preservatives.
Posted at www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare and www.drbronner.com/usda_organic_bodycare.html for the media and public to review, is: one, the Case Management Conference document filed jointly by Dr. Bronner's and Defendants that frames the case from either position; two, the Court's recent Oct. 8th rulings; and three, a detailed comparison of U.S. and European natural and organic personal care standards, ranked by rigor and integrity, including: USDA Organic (US); NSF (US); Soil Association (UK); BDIH (Germany); Natural Products Association (US); Whole Foods Premium (US); OASIS (US); NaTrue (Germany); and Ecocert (France).
Over the summer, Dr. Bronner's was pleased to settle with former defendants Ikove and Juice Beauty. Ikove has committed to reformulate problematic products to exclude any ingredients containing petrochemical compounds and label their products appropriately. Dr. Bronner's and Juice Beauty have entered into a Settlement Agreement, in which Juice Beauty agrees to accept the Court's decision; but in any event, even should the Court not so mandate, Juice Beauty has committed that no ingredients including petrochemical compounds shall be in any Juice Beauty product whatsoever, as of February, 2010. Says Dr. Bronner's president David Bronner: "We're optimistic as the case progresses, that other companies that have further to go will nonetheless see the light and agree to settle rather than dragging this out." Adds Ronnie Cummins, OCA Executive Director: "The writing is on the wall for companies who misbrand conventional personal care as organic to mislead consumers."
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