Ocean Spray sues Decas for “malicious campaign”; rival says suit is “frivolous”

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ocean spray, Law

Bitter cranberry rivals Ocean Spray Cranberries and Decas Cranberry Sales are set for another legal battle after Ocean Spray this week sued Decas for “deceptive business practices” in a Massachusetts court. Decas has vowed to fight the action.

Ocean Spray on Monday filed an action that claims Decas engaged in an “unlawful and malicious campaign” ​to discredit it that included:

  • Distributing letters and emails, internet blogs and websites, Facebook accounts, YouTube videos and Twitter postings.
  • Soliciting independent growers to launch an antitrust suit against Ocean Spray and cease with working with it
  • Establishing a website called Scamberry.org to discredit Ocean Spray and Ocean Spray products

Decas chief executive officer Chuck Dillon told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the action was “totally frivolous”​ but had not yet received legal counsel to determine its next action.

Ocean Spray’s action includes reference to a link from the Scamberry.org page to a Facebook page called Scamberry where consumers are urged to take action against an Ocean Spray business-to-business ingredient called Choice.

The Scamberry.org site set up by Decas in July originally contained no reference to its originator but just this week Decas made clear its involvement, a fact Dillon put down to a desire to make the site about, “the products not the dispute between Decas and Ocean Spray”.

Ocean Spray spokesperson John Isaf said the change had been prompted by Ocean Spray contacting Decas’ social media agency, InkHouse, which had taken the site down for one day.

Decas made the site live again the next day and has subsequently severed ties with InkHouse.

Isaf said much of the current battle centered on the cranberry concentration of Choice, which he said was similar to Decas sweetened, dried cranberry extracts despite what was being claimed by Decas on the Scamberry website and elsewhere.

Reputation and relationships

In a statement Monday, Ocean Spray vice president and general counsel Richard Stamm said: "Decas has colluded with a group of growers and handlers to engage in a calculated and unlawful propaganda campaign to damage Ocean Spray's reputation and relationships with our growers, customers and consumers."

He said other growers would be named in the action in due course.

Dillon said that while Decas supported growers may wish to lodge an antitrust action against Ocean Spray, his company was not involved in it, especially given its involvement in another antitrust action against Ocean Spray dating back to December.

In that case, Decas issued a counterclaim that Ocean Spray is trying to monopolize the sweetened, dried cranberry market after Ocean Spray sued it for patent infringement. No verdict has yet been delivered.

Related topics: Markets

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