Ayana Hill sued Fiji water regarding alleged environmental claims made on its product packaging. Specifically, the label on each bottle of Fiji water contains a "green water drop" and Fiji's packaging and marketing states that its product is "FijiGreen" and "Every Drop is Green." Hill alleged that the green water drop and other claims implied that Fiji bottled water is environmentally superior to other waters and endorsed by an environmental organization because the drop looks similar to environmental seals of approval used by independent third party organizations. However, the court noted that the green water drop bore no name or recognized logo of any group, no trademark symbol, and no other indication that it is anything but a symbol of Fiji water. Although the court found that reasonable consumers would view the drop, together with its green color, as referring to the environment, it concluded that Fiji was simply touting its environmental benefits without misleading consumers. Additionally, the court noted that the drop appears next to the website name, "fijigreen.com," further confirming to a reasonable consumer that the green drop symbol is by Fiji water, not an independent third party organization and inviting consumers to visit the website for product information, which includes Fiji Water's explanation of its environmental efforts. As such, the appeals court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint.
TIP: Although this court concluded that a green drop did not communicate a third party certification or a general environmental benefit when linked to a specific company website, companies who make green claims, including through symbols such as the green water drop at issue in this case, should be sure to properly explain and qualify such claims.