Ruling shields scientific opinions

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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals says a New York federal court correctly ruled that scientific opinions in a journal article could not give rise to claims of deceptive advertising. The court dismissed an appeal brought by Ony, Inc., a producer of surfactants, over a journal article that compared the effectiveness of several types of surfactants.

“The district court correctly concluded that plaintiff has failed to state a claim based on publication of the article itself because the challenged statements are protected scientific opinion,” the appeals court wrote in Ony, Inc. v. Cornerstone Therapeutics, Inc. et al.

In a decision based on the presumed competence of a specialized audience to not be misled, the appellate judges said that distribution of such article excerpts cannot be challenged so long as the excerpts don't mislead readers as to the article's conclusions.

Courts, they wrote “are ill-equipped to referee” such controversies. “The trial of ideas plays out in the pages of peer-reviewed journals, and the scientific public sits as the jury.”
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