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Better Pizza? Bigger Lawsuit.


"Better ingredients. Better pizza."

Papa John's claims its pizza is "better" than Pizza Hut's. It's a claim Pizza Hut didn't take lightly. In fact, the company's lawyers filed a federal false advertising lawsuit against Papa John's.

This on-going battle actually began in 1998. But the U.S. Supreme Court put this case to rest in 2004, turning down Pizza Hut's appeal.

The problem stemmed from Papa John's famous slogan, coupled with a national advertising campaign. One of the ads stated Papa John's "won big time" in taste tests over Pizza Hut. Other ads in the campaign alleged Papa John's sauce and dough were better than Pizza Hut's because they were made with fresh tomatoes and filtered water.

That ad campaign prompted Pizza Hut to file the false advertising lawsuit. The company's lawyers said they had scientific evidence proving Papa John's ingredients didn't affect the pizza's taste.

Initially, a jury sided with Pizza Hut agreeing that Papa John's claims of better sauce and dough were false or misleading. The judge ordered Papa John's to stop using the "Better ingredients. Better pizza" slogan and awarded Pizza Hut $467,619 in damages.

Jurors in that trial were asked if the ads were likely to deceive the consumer. But a federal appeals court later said the jurors were never asked if consumers relied on Papa John's "better" claims when deciding what pizza to buy. So last September, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the verdict and ruled in favor of Papa John's.

There's heavy competition in the pizza world, especially between Pizza Hut and Papa John's. Pizza Hut maintains the number one position, followed by Domino's and then Papa John's.

But the heated competition is between Pizza Hut and Papa John's. Apparently, their rivalry is so fierce, Pizza Hut reserves any phone numbers that spell out the letters P-A-P-A...just so Papa John's can't get them.

The better-best argument also affects the results of this case. You've seen commercials where a company claims to have the "best" thingamajig. "Best" can be used without having to backup your statement. When you use "better," you "better" have proof to substantiate your claim.

Papa John's adamantly denies Pizza Hut's false advertising charges. The company's lawyers maintain the statements made in the ad campaign aren't false, but are merely statements of personal taste.

Lawyers for Pizza Hut said Papa John's ads violate federal law. They claim even without evidence that customers relied on the "Better ingredients. Better pizza" slogan to base their pizza-buying decision, Papa John's ad campaign is deceptive. Pizza Hut execs say the decision is unfair to both consumers and responsible advertisers.

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