PEPSICO, FCB EXPLORE LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

Meanwhile, Both Prepare for Injunction Hearing

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Quaker Oats Co. will continue on a dual track in its federal lawsuit against Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, following a status hearing held today in a Chicago U.S. District Court.

PepsiCo-owned Quaker and Interpublic Group of Cos.' FCB will meet Nov. 13 to update Judge James F. Holderman on the settlement discussions the court prompted during today's hearing. If the companies fail to reach a settlement by then, they will continue with a December preliminary injunction hearing that could decide whether FCB can work on Coca-Cola Co.'s Powerade sports drink, the chief rival of Quaker's Gatorade drink.

No comment
Neither side would comment on the settlement conference, held behind closed doors after this morning's hearing.

On Dec. 13 and 14, PepsiCo and FCB are scheduled to face off in a preliminary injunction hearing in Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court. On Nov. 2 PepsiCo won a temporary restraining order barring four FCB employees from working on Coca-Cola's Dasani bottled-water brand. Those four employees had earlier helped develop an advertising campaign for PepsiCo's Aquafina water brand on a project basis.

Minute Maid next?
PepsiCo's lawyer Roger Pascal wouldn't comment on whether the soft-drink giant would file additional suits to block FCB from working on Coca-Cola's Minute Maid orange juice brand, which Coke confirmed it had also assigned to the agency.

In September, PepsiCo pulled its $350 million Gatorade, Aquafina and Tropicana orange juice assignments out of FCB, citing conflict of interest.

Interpublic, which has strong ties to Coca-Cola, this year acquired FCB parent True North Communications. FCB's 90-day termination clause on the Gatorade and Dasani brands expires Dec. 19.

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