A federal judge has granted Church & Dwight, the Princeton-based manufacturer of Arm & Hammer cat litter products, an injunction against Chlorox from running a commercial that claims its Fresh Step litter is superior.

On January 4 in Manhattan court District Judge Jed Rakoff said Church & Dwight showed a high likelihood of “irreparable harm” from Clorox’s ad and issued a preliminary injunction to halt the ad, which began airing last February, while litigation continues.

Church & Dwight said the Chlorox ad sent a false message that cat litter with baking soda fights odor less well than Fresh Step, which uses carbon. While not named in the ad, Arm & Hammer is the only major cat litter brand that uses baking soda.

Rakoff said Clorox’s test assessing how litter fought odors was unreliable, noting that while Clorox sealed jars of cat waste for 22 to 26 hours prior to testing, “cats do not seal their waste.”

The judge also agreed with a Church & Dwight expert that it was “highly implausible” that 11 testers could have repeatedly stuck their noses in jars of cat waste, and uniformly reported no odors from waste treated with carbon.

“Clorox’s own evidence acknowledges that humans, even trained panelists, report smells even when none are present,” he wrote in his ruling on January 4.

Church & Dwight Co. Inc. (CHD), 469 North Harrison Street; 609-683-5900; fax, 609-497-7177. James R. Craigie, president, CEO, chairman. www.churchdwight.com.

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