The Philippine Supreme Court has cleared PepsiCo of any liability in a promotional fiasco that led to lawsuits and even riots 14 years ago.

In the 1992 "Number Fever" sales campaign, local bottler Pepsi Cola Philippines offered prizes of up to PHP1m (US$18,800) for holders of bottle caps with winning numbers.

When the number "349" was announced, tens of thousands of consumers claimed the prizes, but Pepsi refused to pay all of them, saying the caps did not contain the proper security codes. Pepsi said a computer glitch picked the number by mistake.

The court decision found no proof of negligence by Pepsi and said the company should not be held liable for damages. "The issues surrounding the '349' incident have been laid to rest and must no longer be disturbed in this decision," the court said, according to an Associated Press report yesterday (20 June).

Pepsi's refusal to pay also sparked riots and calls for a boycott, the report said. At least 37 company trucks were burned in attacks, including a grenade blast that killed three people in the southern city of Davao.