Bombay HC restrains Sebamed soap firm’s ads against HUL brands

The Bombay high court on Monday restrained Sebamed soap manufacturing firm USV from broadcasting or printing its advertisements which allegedly disparage HUL’s popular brands Lux, Dove and Pears.

A single bench of Justice BP Colabawalla passed an ex-parte interim order without hearing USV after HUL moved a plea citing extreme urgency.

The HC restrained USV’s advertisement till January 14, the next date of hearing, and directed it to file its reply by then.

HUL moved an urgent plea on Monday claiming USV was running an ad campaign promoting Sebamed soap and slandering HUL’s popular soap brands by claiming the latter had high pH balance and were, thus, harmful for one’s skin.

As per the ads, while Sebamed soaps have a Ph level of a little over 5, HUL’s soaps have a pH level of 9-10, which is close to the pH levels of detergent soaps.

HUL claimed the ads indulged in “specific targeting of Lux, Dove, Pears and Run brands,” and constituted “wrongful, misleading and malicious marketing tactics”, which were disparaging and denigrating HUL’s products.

Justice Colabawalla said comparative advertisements permitted one to claim that one’s product was better than the other’s, or that it was even the best, such ads cannot be disparaging.

“Prima facie, in my view, the manner, storyline, intent and message soughtto be conveyed by the impugned campaign not only shows that the defendant’s (USV) product is better but also ridicules / derogates theproducts of the plaintiffs (HUL),” HC said while passing the injunction order.

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