A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against Duracell and its parent corporation, Procter & Gamble (P&G), alleging violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law.

In James Collins v. Duracell, Inc. and The Procter & Gamble Company, Duracell and P&G are accused of engaging in deceptive conduct and false advertising by claiming that Duracell Ultra Advance and Ultra Power premium batteries last longer than Duracell’s competing, less expensive batteries.

According to the complaint, as a result of these allegedly false claims, consumers purchased the premium-price batteries believing they would last longer than Duracell’s other batteries, and paid “significantly higher prices with no meaningful additional benefits.”

In the complaint, plaintiffs also dispute Duracell’s claim that the Duracell Ultra Advanced battery is “ideal for high drain devices,” as they give consumers “up to 30% more power in toys than Ultra Digital batteries.” Instead, the results of Plaintiff’s counsel’s independent investigation showed that Duracell Ultra Advanced batteries fail to last materially longer than Duracell’s other alkaline batteries.” As such, plaintiffs argue “there is no meaningful difference in battery life between Duracell Ultra Advanced and Duracell’s other alkaline batteries.”

Beginning earlier this year, Duracell and P&G began to phase out their Ultra Advanced batteries, replacing them with batteries branded as “Ultra Power.” However, as plaintiffs point out in the complaint, both the Ultra Advanced and Ultra Power branded batteries use the same model number, MX1500. Further, while the product packaging for the Ultra Power batteries claims they are Duracell and P&G’s “Longest Lasting” and “most powerful” alkaline batteries, for use “When it Matters Most,” plaintiffs allege “there is no discernible difference between the two batteries, absent the change in branding and marketing.” According to the complaint, as was the case with Duracell’s Ultra Advanced batteries, the new Ultra Power batteries also “fail to last materially longer than Duracell’s other alkaline batteries.”

The Duracell Ultra Advanced & Duracell Ultra Power Battery Life class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of plaintiffs and a class of persons defined as “All persons who purchased Duracell Ultra Advanced or Ultra Power batteries in the State of California during the period beginning four years prior to the date of filing the complaint through the present.” The complaint seeks, among other things, declaratory and injunctive relief, restitution or disgorgement, prejudgment interest, post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

To read the Duracell Ultra Advanced and Ultra Power Battery Class Action complaint, click here.

Why it matters: Companies need to be careful when it comes to marketing similar products with varying price points. Unless there is a material difference between products that justifies an increase in price, companies are better off not introducing similar, competing goods. Doing so only invites inquiries by class counsel and regulators over the ethics of comparison claims, thereby increasing the risk of being hit with a lawsuit.