A federal judge in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California on Monday denied Barilla’s attempt to throw out the case, which means the lawsuit would move forward. Two California residents, Jessica Prost of Los Angeles and Matthew Sinatro of San Francisco, are suing Barilla for misleading customers by claiming its products, which are marketed as “Italy’s No. 1 brand of pasta,” are in fact made in New York and Iowa.
The lawsuit accuse Barilla of false advertising, as the brand inaccurately positions its products “as authentic, genuine Italian pastas—made from ingredients sources in Italy (like durum wheat), and manufactured in Italy.” The complaint alleges the colors of the Italian flag, which appear on boxes of Barilla products, “further perpetuating the notion that the products are authentic pastas from Italy.”
Meanwhile, Barilla maintains that “no reasonable consumer could be deceived” by their packaging because all 54 products “are conspicuously marked ‘Made in the USA’ with the location of Barilla’s headquarters in Illinois.”
“As Plaintiffs note, Barilla asks the court to assume that consumers would solely perceive the Challenged Representation to mean that the products at issue are part of the Barilla brand, and not that they are made in Italy from Italian ingredients,” Judge Donna M. Ryu wrote in her ruling. “In other words, Barilla asks the court to decide as a matter of law that the Challenged Representation can mean only one thing. However, Plaintiffs have alleged that the Challenged Representation appears with the colors of the Italian flag, and that this imagery further reinforces the notion that the products ‘are authentic pastas from Italy.’”
The Plaintiffs are requesting that Barilla be stopped from using Italy’s likeness in marketing its products, while also seeking monetary compensation.