AMERICAS: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
FALSE ADVERTISING AND UNFAIR COMPETITION IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Author: Jaime Angeles, Angeles Lugo Lovatón
Two major food companies that compete in the chicken broth cubes segment are involved in the first false and deceiving advertising and unfair competition litigation in the Dominican Republic.
Quala Dominicana S.A., a subsidiary of Colombian giant Quala S.A., launched a TV campaign in which there is a representation that Quala has a 70% market share and that her chicken broth cubes Doña Gallina® is the only one in the market with 0% cholesterol and with the least fat and salt in the market. The percentage is well shown in the TV ad and the statements about ingredients are claiming that “Doña Gallina is number one in preference because it is THE [chicken broth] with least fat, 0% cholesterol and less salt…” The ad makes a visual comparison of two different types of chicken broth cubes, one of which has a greasy wrap paper.
The ad shows a circular graphic that contains yellow and red, the colors of Maggi®’s trade dress, which is a well-known Nestlé product. The ad also shows “the greasy product” one with a yellow background with red letters.
Nestlé has started litigation for false and deceiving advertisement and unfair competition, arguing that the ad is misleading the consumers with false market share statistics and also using a photo of a different type of chicken broth cube (bland / soft cube) that is not the same as the Doña Gallina type (a hard cube). Hard cubes contain less fat than bland cubes and this is a standard of the industry. Nestlé sells a hard chicken broth cube that is not greasy and stays dry as Doña Gallina cube´s. Nestlé also states in her lawsuit that her Maggi®’s hard cube also meets international criteria of 0% in cholesterol and fat. Nestlé has been publicizing these characteristics since 2008, but not claiming that is the only product which meets those criteria.
For the first time in the Dominican Republic, a competitor has tried to obtain an injunction relief to halt the transmission of a TV commercial. Litigation is on the preliminary stages at the civil courts of Santo Domingo.