Toothpaste brands row: HC asks Pepsodent to withdraw print ad on Colgate's plea

Delhi High Court asks Pepsodent to withdraw the impugned print ad.

New Delhi: Accepting toothpaste manufacturer Colgate Palmolive's plea, the Delhi High court has directed its rival Pepsodent Germicheck to withdraw its print advertisement, saying the same appears to be 'prima facie disparaging' of the Colgate brand.

The court, however, said Pepsodent's TV advertisement is not disparaging but the voice over on it is "misleading and inaccurate" and asked Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) to modify Pepsodent's TV commercial.

"We restrain the respondent (HUL) and or its agents from publishing the impugned print advertisement or any other similar advertisement which disparages Colgate ST (Colgate Strong Teeth) or any other product of the appellants (Colgate)," a bench of justices B.D. Ahmed and Vibhu Bakhru said.

"To sum up, in our view, the impugned TVC cannot be stated to be per se disparaging Colgate ST. However, the voice-over at the end of the impugned TVC which states misleading and inaccurate. Thus, this statement in the voiceover is directed to be deleted from the impugned TVC or, at the option of the respondent, may be suitably modified to refer only to Colgate ST (Colgate Strong Teeth).....," the bench also said.

Colgate had, in its plea, alleged the TV advertisement had given inaccurate information regarding the comparative effects of the two toothpastes, while the print advertisement was not only inaccurate but also amounted to disparagement of its brand.

The court in its order accepted the argument that the print advertisement was disparaging, noting that the ad "not only conveys an impression that use of Colgate would not be as effective as Pepsodent but also conveys an impression that use of Colgate ST instead of Pepsodent GSP would result in causing harm and discomfort to its consumers."

The court noted that the entire basis of the claim of superiority by Pepsodent is based on the concentration of triclosan in dental plaque after four hours of brushing.

The court, however, refrained from making any judgment on whether the claim made by the advertisement was correct and has sent the case back to the single judge-bench of the High Court to look into the issue of whether the advertisement is accurate and truthful.

"In our view, even if we assume that the representation that Pepsodent is more effective in combating germs 4 hours after brushing, in comparison with Colgate ST, is correct, even then, prima facie, the advertisement would be disparaging as it also conveys the message that Colgate is ineffective and lacks the requisite quality," the court said.

The bench's order came on Colgate's plea against the High Court's single judge's August 21 order declining to restrain HUL from issuing the advertisment on Pepsodent Germicheck for allegedly disparaging Colgate toothpaste.

Dismissing Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd's plea for interim injunction against HUL, the judge had said, "The court is not persuaded to hold at this stage that the impugned TV advertisement or the printed advertisement by HUL is disparaging of or denigrating the product Colgate Strong Teeth of the plaintiffs (Colgate).

( Source : PTI )
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