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Monster Energy Wins $293 Million False Ad Award Over Bang Energy

Sept. 30, 2022, 1:27 PM

Energy drink maker Monster Energy Co. was awarded $293 million in damages by a California federal jury in a false advertising and trade secrets case against the maker of Bang Energy and its CEO Jack Owoc over the drink’s “super creatine” branding—with the potential for more to come.

The jury awarded $272 million for the false advertising claim, $18 million for tortious interference, and $3 million for the trade secret claim, according to Monster’s co-lead trial counsel Moez Kaba of Hueston Hennigan LLP.

The verdict said that VPX and Owoc’s actions were willful, and Judge Jesus Bernal will decide if they face enhanced and punitive damages, Kaba said.

Monster first sued in 2018 in the US District Court for the Central District of California, arguing that super creatine was nothing more than water-soluble creatine that didn’t have any of the advertised health benefits.

“The jury recognized that VPX built its billion dollar Bang energy drink on a lie,” Monster’s co-lead counsel John Hueston said in a statement to Bloomberg Law. “The verdict, including bases for punitive damages, revealed that their ascent to the number three energy drink in the US was based on their lie that they had a ‘super’ form of creatine when they had none at all.”

The Thursday verdict capped a three-week-long trial over whether VPX Sports violated federal advertising law by misleading consumers into believing that the super creatine found in its Bang Energy drinks was a “new” compound “invented” by VPX Sports, part of Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc.

An attorney for VPX didn’t return a request for comment.

VPX has been on the losing side of a number of legal disputes across the country. In July, Monster won $175 million and 5% of VPX’s sales of Bang products in a trademark dispute.

VPX has also been hit with lawsuits from the three largest record labels for allegedly using unlicensed music in promotional videos posted to the social network TikTok. In two of those cases, judges ruled that VPX was liable for copyright infringement.

Hueston Hennigan LLP represents Monster. Quarles & Brady LLP represent Vital Pharmaceuticals.

The case is Monster Energy Co. v. Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 5:18-cv-01882, jury verdict 9/29/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaiah Poritz in Washington at iporitz@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Adam M. Taylor at ataylor@bloombergindustry.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com