The Bombay High Court on Monday restrained USV a firm that manufactures Sebamed soap from broadcasting or printing its advertisements which allegedly disparages top HUL brands such as Lux, Dove, and Pears.
As HUL moved a plea citing extreme emergency, a single bench of Justice BP Colabawalla passed an ex-parte interim order without consulting USV.
The advertisement was restrained till January 14th, which was the next hearing date and the reply had to be filed by then.
When the Sebamed India’s Country head was contacted he said that they had not received any court order yet and once they receive it they will comply with it responsibly and will also file a response to the issue raised.
HUL moved an urgent plea on Monday claiming that USV was running an ad campaign to promote its Sebamed soap by showing top HUL soaps like Lux, Pears, and Dove in a bad light. It claimed that HUL soaps have high PH which makes them harmful for the skin.
According to the ad Sebamed soaps had a PH value of slightly more than 5 and the HUL soaps had a PH value of 9-10 which is similar to the PH value of detergent soaps and thus can damage the skin.
Executive director, legal and corporate affairs, Mr. Dev Bajpayee said that HUL products are time tested and have never failed to give the customers whatever was promised.
HUL claimed that the firm specifically targeted HUL soaps like Dove, Lux, and Pears which was a highly misleading and malicious marketing strategy. These ads had the potential to lower the reputation of the product in the eyes of the customers.
What did the bench say?
Justice Colabawala said that comparative advertisements had the permission to claim that their products are better than the others or even the best of all. But these kinds of ads do not become derogatory or disparaging.
This is because it gives a fair choice for the customer to chose from the products and thus ensures fair competition.
Justice held that Prima Facie in his view the storyline, intent of the advertisement not only sought to claim that Sebamed soap was better than the rest but also tried to ridicule and derogates certain soaps of the plaintiffs (HUL).
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