22 April 2014

Cleaning up advertisements

Businessmen should perhaps perfect the art of conveying only pleasant truths. While in the above cases, the words did not move beyond mere lauding, in Reckitt Benckiser v. Hindustan Lever Limited, the words/combination of and the depiction travelled far beyond – to disparagement. The comparison between products bathing soap and antiseptic liquid on one hand and rival cleansing liquids on the other was found to be disparaging meriting injunction by the Calcutta High Court [Judgment dated 14 March, 2014].

The antiseptic liquid claimed to kill germs while washing dishes. It claimed to be 100% more effective in destroying germs while the cleansing liquid could only remove dirt. It was opined that if the antiseptic liquid could positively show that it could remove germs better, it need not be restrained. But, it was not borne out by evidence.

The advertisement for the rival cleansing liquid showed the antiseptic to be unsafe for children and hence was not to be used in kitchens. The rival cleansing liquid thus denigrated the other product.

In its advertisement, the antiseptic liquid claimed to provide better protection by destroying germs when diluted and used in bathing.  It conveyed that the same effect could not be achieved by diluting the bathing bar! It was urged that soap had to be rubbed over the body and not used by diluting and the products were quite unlike each other and should not have been compared.

[You may also like to see: http://www.lakshmisri.com/News-and-Publications/Publications/Articles/IPR/delhi-high-court-rules-on-disparagement-of-trademark ]


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