Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has granted an ad-interim ex-parte injunction to Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in a suit filed by HUL against the advertisements of Sebamed that had claimed that its cleansing bar had the perfect PH for sensitive skin. In their advertisement, Sebamed had claimed that Dove, Lux and Pears, well-known soap brands that HUL has been marketing for decades, had higher pH, which harmed sensitive skin. In the advertisement, Sebamed had compared Lux and Pears with RIN, a detergent bar marketed by HUL, and implied Dove was an inferior product due to being pH neutral.
The injunction order was passed by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court after HUL showed to the Court the disparaging campaign launched by Sebamed against HUL’s well-known brands. The Court held that HUL has made a strong prima facie case for grant of ad-interim relief.
The Court recorded the submissions of HUL that the advertisement campaign denigrates its brands and products, does not take into account the full formulations of the products in question, and misleads consumers only on the basis of pH. The court order acknowledges that the advertisement’s purpose was not to promote a product by Sebamed but to discourage the consumer from purchasing HUL’s products – which is not permissible.
In terms of the Order, pending the hearing and final disposal of the matter, USV Private Limited and its affiliates, and their advertising agencies were restrained by an injunction from, in any manner, using, telecasting or broadcasting or communicating to the public the TVC, newspaper advertisements, hoardings and such other material in any language or any other content of similar nature. The matter will now come up on 14th January.
HUL confirmed the development and welcomed the order.
Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs said, “HUL’s brands are time-tested and have always delivered on the promise they have made to their consumers. He added that in the initial days of the Covid pandemic, HUL, as a responsible advertiser, had communicated to the masses that one could wash their hands with any soap as handwashing with soap is the first line of defense against Coronavirus“.
However, Sebamed’s advertisement in question is misleading consumers on soap efficacy during these difficult times, and further denigrating and disparaging well-known brands like Lux, Dove, Pears and Rin.