False Advertising Disputes & Litigation


Some of the world’s most recognized brands rely on our Advertising & Media team to help protect their valuable brands and hard-earned market share in false advertising disputes. Chambers USA has recognized the strength of our litigation team, noting that we “field[s] an impressive advertising offering with particular strengths in proceedings before the NAD and other regulatory bodies” and that we are “adept at handling litigation involving false advertising and unfair trade practices.”

"I have been very impressed. The lawyers are great at preparations, very straightforward and great communicators," Chambers USA

We are adept on both sides of the “v.”, bringing as many cases as plaintiff and challenger as we defend. Our resume includes some of the most prominent cases of the last two decades in industries as diverse as food and beverages, telecommunications, consumer products, and pesticides. We understand the pressures of marketing and work with your brand teams to use the legal process to further business strategy. Our broader regulatory prowess means that we can seamlessly engage with state and federal regulators, whose decisions can be influential if not dispositive of case outcomes. 

National Advertising Division (NAD) Challenges. NAD is a unique, voluntary self-regulatory forum in which competitors (and sometimes public-interest groups and even consumers) challenge advertising claims. Crowell's NAD practice has been recognized as a Band 1 NAD practice in the inaugural ranking by Chambers USA 2022, and is described as fielding "an impressive advertising offering with particular strengths handling proceedings before the NAD and other regulatory bodies."

A particular strength has been our long and illustrious track-record before the National Advertising Division (NAD), where we believe we have handled as many or more NAD challenges than any other firm - by our most recent count, about 15% of all proceedings before the NAD during the last five years. 

Appearing before the NAD, we have often helped shape substantiation doctrines for our clients over many cases and many years, particularly where there are no industry-accepted standards. We can help your company use the NAD process to establish the advertising rules of the road for particular product lines. Not only have we have handled numerous NAD challenges, we have prevailed in the vast majority. We have also argued more cases than most before the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), which is the unique, appellate process for NAD matters.

"Crowell & Moring LLP has recognized expertise in regulatory matters, regularly appearing before both state and federal regulators, most notably before the NAD. "
The Legal 500, 2021

Lanham Act Disputes. We are regularly called on to handle some of the most difficult false advertising litigation matters by clients who use us repeatedly. In 2019, our team worked on headline grabbing matters for AT&T, MillerCoors, and Novartis. Lanham Act false advertising cases are unique and demand lawyers who understand advertising and its motivations in relation to the law, not just general commercial litigators. We regularly work with the nation’s most prominent consumer research and product testing experts, and can help you marshal the evidence to support claims or defenses much more quickly than many firms who do not have these types of regular, working relationships.

Traditional and Digital Media Disputes. We advise clients in all types of disputes related to both traditional and new media platforms. For example, we have advised major brands regarding disputes with agencies, including the pursuit of claims for unpaid rebates and contract breaches. We regularly advise and defend clients accused of copyright and right of publicity infringement. 

Class Actions. We have a deep track record in defending against consumer class actions, particularly relating to foods and beverages, alcoholic beverages, drugs, and personal care and consumer products. Our cases span the coasts from California to New York, and include the emerging hot-forum of the District of Columbia. Our depth of experience in these industries helps us to serve as an early-warning indicator to our clients, and we are often asked to bring these experiences to bear in advising clients regarding the risks of new product and labeling rollouts. Our firm is deeply experienced in the multi-district litigation process and helps devise legal strategies to handle cases or case dockets efficiently.

Antitrust. Our firm’s illustrious antitrust and competition practice provides insights and strategies to deal with anticompetitive behavior in the market, such as tying, predatory pricing, and monopolistic or exclusionary behavior—offering solutions that some other firms might miss.

Representative Engagements

  • Secured a favorable ruling on key elements of our client MillerCoors LLC’s request for preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against AnheuserBusch, which argued a Bud Light Super Bowl ad campaign deliberately deceived the public in its claims regarding the presence of corn syrup in Miller Lite and Coors Light. The federal court also denied AnheuserBusch’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The new federal ruling bars Anheuser Busch from using specific language featured prominently during the recent ad campaign in any future commercials, print advertising or social media.
  • Defended AT&T against a lawsuit filed by Sprint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that AT&T’s “5G Evolution” mobile network was deceptively named. The case settled favorably in early 2019.
  • Secured a victory at the National Advertising Division (NAD) regarding a series of testimonial advertisements featuring Verizon customers explaining why they chose Verizon. The NAD recommended Verizon discontinue several of the ads, including one in which a man credited Verizon’s mobile service for saving his life when he says he fell 22 feet “in the middle of the woods,” which turned out to be his backyard in suburban Atlanta.
  • Represented the Campaign for Accountability in a pathbreaking NAD challenge to claims of 20% cost-savings for a residential rooftop solar energy provider.
  • Defending Pret a Manger Panera in several lawsuits in California, New York and the District of Columbia, over allegations that their foods cannot be advertised as “natural” or “clean,” respectively, because certain food items allegedly contain synthetic substances, including tiny, trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup pesticide.
  • Prevailed at the NAD on behalf of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax tax-preparation software against a competitor known as TaxSlayer. TaxSlayer had been claiming that its service was “Number One Rated on TrustPilot,” a supposedly independent, consumer review website. NAD found, consistent with Intuit’s arguments, that while TrustPilot had TaxSlayer at number one (with thousands of consumer reviews), the other major competitors were barely assessed, and TurboTax was not even included in the survey. The NAD’s ruling not only asked TaxSlayer to discontinue the misleading claims, it set important parameters for advertisers making claims based on user reviews.
  • Represented Novartis in actions against competitor Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. for damages caused by false representations regarding their competing psoriasis medications. The case settled in early 2019.
  • Helped an iconic maker of diapers defend its claim to offer unique performance for newborn diapers, carving out a unique niche in the market.
  • On behalf of chemical company, we brought a challenge to an advertising campaign for a competitor’s insulation product that claimed it insulated better than our client’s product. The competitor agreed to drop all challenged claims.