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Supreme Court dismisses HUL's petition in Sebamed soap ad case

The legal fight erupted between the two companies after Sebamed released print advertisements targeting Lux, Dove, Rin and Pears - all of them are HUL brands.

February 16, 2021 / 05:00 PM IST
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on February 16 dismissed the special leave petition filed by Hindustan Unilever (HUL) against German soap brand Sebamed over "disparaging" advertisements.

The top court refused to stay the Bombay High Court order, issued on January 19, which allowed Sebamed to run the ad campaign naming rival HUL's Dove soap, CNBC TV18 reported.

The legal fight erupted between the two companies after Sebamed released print advertisements targeting Lux, Dove, Rin and Pears - all of them are HUL brands.

The Bombay High Court had, in its interim order issued on January 11, restrained Sebamed from running the ad campaign.

But the final court order allowed the German company to use the ads without naming RIN since it is a detergent soap.

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"As far as the advertisement comparing Sebamed cleansing bar to Dove soap is concerned, the defendant (Sebamed) is permitted to air the advertisement in its current form. In the advertisements comparing Pears and Lux to Sebamed cleansing bar respectively, no reference shall be made to Rin detergent bar or any other detergent soap," the Bombay High Court order was quoted as stating.

The ad campaign attempted to highlight that Sebamed soaps were ideal for sensitive skins due to their ideal pH levels. On the contrary, it claimed, products such as Dove, Pears Santoor and Lux have higher pH levels.

Advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared before the apex court on behalf of HUL on February 15, argued that the Sebamed could had promoted its product without denigrating the rival products.

"Soap is not seasonal. Sebamed is a new kid on the block. It wants to move forward by denigrating other known products like Lux and Dove," Live Law quoted Singhvi as saying.
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