HUL took Emami's to Court for Trademark Infringement
Trademarkclick .com 11 Apr 2019

HUL took Emami's to Court for Trademark Infringement

An application was filed by Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) against Emami. It was for restraining Emami from telecasting one of its commercials for the product ‘Fair And Handsome’, which allegedly disparaged the goodwill and reputation of HUL’s product, ‘Fair & Lovely’. This application was a part of the suit filed by HUL for trademark infringement, disparagement and unfair trade practices on the part of Emami.

Niacinamide is the key substance is capable of delivering skin lightening benefits and HUL used this substance to develop the technology they used in ‘Fair & Lovely’.  HUL claims that this is the same ingredient that works for both the gender in the same manner but may vary in the degree of efficiency. Male consumers commonly used the fairness products available in the market and that is the reason there was no product in the market that was targeting men specifically.

HUL started targeting the male population from 2006 with the launch of ‘Fair & Lovely Men’ and later the name was changed to ‘Men’s Fair & Lovely’.  Emami used HUL’s case in their advertisement and made a false claim that HUL’s Fair & Lovely was “rubbish and inefficacious” and is restricted to be used only by women. The advertisement was objected by HUL. The ad was featuring “a tube with its colour combination of pink and white” and was referring to it as “ladkiwali fairness cream”. The ad depicted the pink-white cream is ineffective on men’s skin while Emami’s ‘Fair And Handsome’ is effective for a fairness cream for men. The active ingredient for both creams is Niacinamide. HUL pleaded “The advertisement was an attempt to demean, diminish and injure the business of HUL” to which Emami responded “defended the advertisement by stating that the whole intention behind the advertisement was to inform male consumers that the fairness cream used by female consumers was not effective on their skin, as the texture of male skin was completely different.”

HUL admitted that the requirement for men’s and women’s skin was different. After hearing the parties, the Court ordered that the fairness cream tube that was shown in the advertisement should be changed to white; there should not be a dual face logo, which was materially different from HUL’s product. “The TV commercial no doubt seems to make fun of a male using a ladies cream. Can it be said that this advertisement on account of the said dialogue stated is false or misleading or unfair or deceptive? Does it amount to generic disparagement? The answer is in the negative. In view of the literature that has been posted on its own website by the plaintiff, it also cannot be said that prima facie the statements made in the advertisement regarding using of women’s cream by men is false.”

It was stated by the Delhi High Court that the advertisement did not in any manner disparage HUL’s “Fair and Lovely”. The advertisement does not, prima facie, slander the goods of HUL, the Court decreed while dismissing the application.

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