Bombay High Court rules in favour of HUL over Disparaging Advertisement.
The Court has restrained Sebamed from running advertisements that disparage or belittle the products of HUL.
The Bombay High Court recently granted relief to Hindustan Unilever (HUL) against Sebamed, a German-based soap company.
The issue first arose in 2021, when Sebamed released print advertisements targeting Lux, Dove, Rin, and Pears, all of which are owned by HUL. The advertisements stated that the HUL owned soaps do not maintain an optimal level of PH level.
HUL thereafter filed a suit with the High Court of Bombay over 'disparaging advertisements.'
It was prayed that Sebamed must be retrained by an order or injunction from using, telecasting or broadcasting, or communicating to the public any content that disparages its brand.
Ruling in favor of HUL, the Court restrained Sebamed from running advertisements that disparage or belittles the products of HUL.
Kritika Seth, founding partner, Victoriam Legalis – Advocates & Solicitors said to Mint that "Bombay High Court made it clear that comparative marketing is an infringement of a brand's intellectual property. If a brand has any scientific advances over any other brand regarding its products, then the focus should be on creating awareness regarding such important aspects so that a consumer can make an informed decision. Comparative marketing not only infringes the brand but also denigrates the reputation of the brand that it has built over a period of time".
According to Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, legal & corporate affairs, HUL, Sebamed's campaign unfairly sought to discredit soap brands of HUL, and therefore, HUL deserved protection.
He went on to add that Sebamed's ad campaign was highly irresponsible, and that such a misleading communication was issued during the pandemic when the government and health authorities had advocated handwashing with any soap.
According to the court, Sebamed's advertising purpose was not to promote their own product, but to discourage the consumer from purchasing HUL's products – which is not permissible.