A lawsuit charging that California cows aren't as happy as an advertising campaign implies has been thrown out by a San Francisco judge.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had filed a lawsuit accusing the San Francisco-based California Milk Advisory Board -- the group behind the "Happy Cows" ad campaign -- of false advertising.
But Superior Court Judge David Garcia ruled late Tuesday that the government is exempt from the false advertisement laws that apply to private individuals.
The commercials show cows frolicking in green, rolling pastures, followed by the tagline, "Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California."
The milk board said it is pleased with the ruling.
"We are the largest dairy state," Nancy Fletcher, the advisory board's vice president of communications, said Wednesday. "Dairy farmers in California are very proud of their commitment to deliver a wholesome product."
PETA contended that, contrary to the ads, the state's dairy cows lead miserable lives in muddy fields devoid of vegetation, and endure chemical and genetic manipulation to produce abnormally high quantities of milk.
"Ads that try to get you to believe that cows are happy when they're really miserable should not be allowed just because they are sponsored by the government," said Matthew Penzer, PETA's legal counsel. "Whether it comes from the government or from industry, it is wrong to boost sales by deceiving the public."
The suit was not PETA's first unsuccessful attack on the ad campaign.
In October, the Federal Trade Commission declined to take action on a similar complaint from the group.