[COVID-19] Dettol suspends Handwash Ads after HUL moves Bombay HC

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“Other products including alcohol-based sanitisers are recommended only when soap and water is not available. Moreover, nations across the world are communicating just the opposite and asking people to wash their hands with soaps and water.”

says Senior Counsel Virag Tulzapurkar and advocate Hiren Kamod appearing for HUL

Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Ltd, the company which produces Dettol Hand Wash and other Dettol products informed the Bombay High Court that it will be suspending its Handwash advertisement for a month. Reckitt Benckiser informed this after Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), which produces Lifebouy Soap, moved Bombay HC seeking damages and argued that at the time when the whole world is struggling to control the Coronavirus Outbreak and the World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued guidelines to use Soap and Water, Dettol Ads are conveying the message that Soaps are not effective, useless and cannot protect consumers from the virus while handwash gives better protection.

HUL’s plea before the Court

HUL prayed before the court seeking restrain on Dettol Ad broadcast and damages of Rs. 1 crore for scaring the public by falsely propagating that soaps are useless. A single-judge bench of Justice K R Shriram heard HUL’s petition on Friday. HUL asserted it went over a TV ad for promotion of Dettol Liquid Handwash on March 12 by which Reckitt vilified ‘Lifebuoy Soap’ trademark as it is spreading a message that washing hands with soap and water is totally futile and handwash is the only way to achieve ten times better protection from germs is bogus. It was presented by HUL that according to WHO guidelines, washing hands with soap and water is a powerful method to shield individuals from such an infection.

HUL also argued “Other products including alcohol-based sanitisers are recommended only when soap and water is not available. Moreover, nations across the world are communicating just the opposite and asking people to wash their hands with soaps and water.”

Senior Counsel Chander Lall for Rickett (Dettol), however, opposed the plea and submitted that HUL could not prove that the soap shown in the advertisement is their product and therefore there was no infringement.


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