Amway claims P&G Satanic damages to be improper

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Jury Law

Following a federal court ruling that Procter & Gamble suffered
no damages over rumors surrounding Satanic worship, defendants
Amway are now challenging the decision that that they pay nearly
$20m in legal costs.

Amway lawyers are trying to overthrow a decision that four of its distributors pay $19.25m to P&G in damages incurred due to the alleged ill-effects rumors of devil worshipping had on its business - despite the fact that sales have risen consistently during the period in question.

The Amway lawyers are alleging improper deliberations by the 11-strong jury in an effort to get the decision overthrown.

In fact, three jurors said in affidavits that the award was given to P&G calculated on the basis of the number of lawyers working on the case and present in the courtroom at the time.

As a result, the Amway law team are asking federal judges to investigate misconduct by the 11-member jury team.

The lawyers have also cited the Lanham Act, which determines market place competition and stresses that only judges can preside over matters regarding lawyers fees.

The news comes as P&G last week filed a motion to triple the damages it will receive, a sign that neither side is happy with the outcome reached two weeks ago.

The initial ruling by the Federal District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah, stemmed from a law case first brought about in 1995, and is one of several the company has filed since rumors linking the company's logo to Satanism started circulating in the early 80s.

"This is about protecting our reputation," said Jim Johnson, P&G's chief legal officer said at the time.

"We will take appropriate legal measures when competitors unfairly undermine the reputation of our brands or our company."

A Federal judge had originally dismissed the lawsuit involving Amway back in 2003, after a panel of judges had ruled that the rumors were not defamatory, but P&G had the case reinstated after a further appeal.

Court documents show that the origin of the Satanic rumor at Amway came from a message that was forwarded through the company's common phone-message system to thousands of customers.

Amway claims it was quick to quash such rumors and put out repeated retractions after the message was leaked by the distributors.

"Despite the public apology, P&G has spent 12 years destroying their lives," Kate Makled, spokesperson for Amway's parent company Alticor, said in an interview with the Associated Press.

"P&G is a $68 billion company.

What they got out of this case was what they could earn in about 2 1/2 hours.

We think that's shameful."

P&G has continued to be proactive in defending its business name and its brands, with a number of high profile lawsuits being successfully fought last year to protect brands in the feminine care, oral care and beauty business area.

Last September the company announced a lawsuit against HABA-Davion, claiming that the company had infringed trade dress and trademarks involving several P&G deodorant brands.

And in early August the company also announced another lawsuit a against a product line manufactured by Perrigo New York, which the cosmetic giant claims closely imitates its core Olay brand.

P&G, along with other leading global consumer goods companies, fiercely protects its brands.

In any one year it issues hundreds of lawsuits worldwide, but is particularly active in the US market, where infringement laws are most fiercely protected.

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