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MUMBAI : A division bench of Bombay High Court has dismissed an appeal by USV Pvt Ltd against a single judge order restraining the company from airing advertisements comparing the pH value of its Sebamed brand of soaps with Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s Lux, Dove and Pears products.

“In our view the learned single judge was entirely correct in his approach. He correctly assessed the prima facie case that was made out before it and material on a prima facie view. The appeal therefore has been disposed of without any costs," the bench led by Justice Gautam Patel, and also comprising Madhav Jamdar, said on Wednesday. The detailed order is awaited.

The bench upheld the 17 June high court order, which said advertisements launched by USV in January 2021 denigrated and disparaged HUL’s products.

“The court rulings reaffirm that the advertisement campaign by Sebamed denigrated HUL’s brands and misled consumers on the basis of the pH value, which is just one of the many parameters that go into manufacturing soaps. It is also pertinent to note Sebamed’s campaign was irresponsible, and that such misleading communication was issued during the pandemic, when the government and health authorities had advocated handwashing with any soap," Dev Bajpai, executive director, legal and corporate affairs, HUL, said.

In the USV ad campaign of January 2021, it claimed that Dove, Lux and Pears, the well-known soap brands from HUL had higher pH levels that was not apt for sensitive skin.

On 16 June, the single judge, Justice A.K. Menon restrained USV, which retails German soap brand Sebamed in India, from further infringing on the brands owned by HUL, and asked it to take down the ads comparing Lux, Dove and Pears with detergent bar Rin.

USV moved the high court against the single-judge order immediately on the grounds that Sebamed’s products were better than HUL’s. In its plea, HUL had prayed that Sebamed be restrained from using, telecasting, broadcasting or communicating to the public any content that disparages its brands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Priyanka Gawande
Priyanka Gawande is a senior legal correspondent at Mint. She has worked as legal reporter for four years with both television and digital mediums. Based in Mumbai, she reports on disputes across sectors including banking, corporates and finance. This also includes insolvency and bankruptcy cases and intellectual property rights (IPR) litigation. Her focus also comprises tracking capital markets and disputes relating to securities law. Previously, Priyanka worked with Informist Media for 2.5 years covering major insolvency and bankruptcy cases and corporate developments. She started her career in journalism with Business Television India (BTVi) where she reported on primary markets, banking, finance and insurance companies.
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Updated: 13 Jul 2022, 11:22 PM IST
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