Dr. Bronner lawsuit over the definition of organics is dismissed

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

The on-going lawsuit between Dr. Bronner and a number of defending cosmetics companies and certification bodies has been dismissed by a California district court, bringing an end to over four years of court battles.

Last week the courts of the Northern District of California declared that the filiing of a fourth amendment to the lawsuit was denied, while the third amendment was dismissed, bringing an end to the suit.

The lawsuit, which was headed up by food and personal care player Hain Celestial, has seen soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner's, backed by other natural cosmetic and personal care manufacturers, do battle with other leading manufacturers over what exactly constitutes a natural and organic product and how it is labelled.

The latest court ruling sides with Dr. Bronner’s, which filed the lawsuit under the name ‘All One God Faith’, stating that companies manufacturing products containing ingredients derived from synthetics or petrochemicals should not make natural organic claims on labelling.

The battle has lasted over four years...​ 

The lawsuit was first filed back in April 2008 under the premise that its complicity to strict FDA regulations governing organic beauty products was not being met by its competitors.

Dr. Bronner claimed that many of the leading organic beauty brands had not been complying with the standards enforced by the FDA, and ultimately not complying with consumer expectations as to the definition of an organic certified product.

The natural soaps company originally brought the lawsuit against a number of players including Hains Celestial (Jason Naturals and Avalon Organics brands), Levlad (Nature’s Gate), Kiss My Face, YSL Beaute and the certification bodies OASIS and Ecocert.

USDA National Organce Program specifications

In the original lawsuit Dr Bronner asked that the companies cease to market products with organic in the product name unless they meet USDA National Organic Program specifications, which it believes represents consumers’ expectations of the term organic.

This led to an on-going court battle, with the defendents and the subsequent filing of four amendments.

In 2009, the courts chose to uphold the motions by the defending cosmetic companies and certification bodies for lack of subject matter and failure to state a claim in favour of the defendents.

However, the California judgment deemed that Dr. Bronner’s motion to dismiss a counter claim filed by Ecocert, which certifies some of the beauty products in question, was granted, which led to the ongoing and protracted court proceedings.

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