So just how long before this fight plays itself out? According to Israelsen, the answer is a long time. "This will take a while—and then it will take a while longer," he said. "Whatever the initial court decision is, whoever loses will likely appeal; and whoever loses the appeal, will likely appeal."

All the way through this battle, POM's popularity and the high-profile nature of the case are expected to trigger significant media attention, which could significantly impact consumer perceptions of POM and other functional products. In addition, the FTC is expected to be building up a pipeline of similar cases against other functional food and beverage and supplement companies.

"Next to DSHEA [Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act], this will rank as a top three event over the last 20 years for the nutritional products industry," Israelsen said. "It will take a little while for momentum to pick up, but the snowball has been tossed off the mountain and it has avalanche potential."