Court denies True Organic Products' motion for injunction in fertilizer false advertising case

By Charmaine Little | Mar 21, 2019

FRESNO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A federal court in California has denied an organic fertilizer seller's motion for preliminary injunction in a false advertising suit against a competitor, stating that the company failed to establish it would suffer injury if the injunction was not issued.

“Because the court concludes that True (Organic Products Inc.) has not adequately established  that it will suffer an irreparable injury if a preliminary injunction does not issue, True’s motion will be denied,” U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Senior Judge Anthony W. Ishii wrote in a March 4 order.

Ishii wrote there was no proof that True’s goodwill would be put at risk if there wasn’t a preliminary injunction present. True also failed to present evidence that it lost customers to defendant and competitor California Organic Fertilizers Inc. (COFI) because of the allegedly false representations on COFI's Phytamin Clear packaging.

“True has submitted no figures or examples that show the loss of any sales or the loss of any customers, prospective or otherwise, for any reason let alone reasons relating to Phytamin Clear's label," Ishii said.

COFI's Phytamin Clear directly competes with True’s True 412, True 413 and True 512. The order states the issue dates back to 2013 when True raised questions about Phytamin Clear to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. True was concerned whether Phytamin Clear was really exclusively developed from seabird guano as it said on the label. 

The order states True invested and tested Phytamin Clear samples and an expert determined the samples were not exclusively seabird guano or fossilized seabird guano extract. True subsequently thought COFI’s labels were “literally false,” according to the order. True Organic filed its suit against COFI in September 2018.

COFI also has filed a lawsuit of its own against True Organic over the same complaints. COFI's complaint was filed March 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

“COFI is informed and thereon believes that a number of fertilizer products manufactured and sold by True violate the NOP (National Organic Program) and are not suitable for use in organic farming,” its suit states.

COFI alleged in its suit that True sells fertilizer products that are taken from GMO sugar beets, contain impermissible antibiotics, is taken from chicken manure and uncomposted chicken manure, as well as derived from fish that has gone through a chemical process.

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