Sebamed soap case: Bombay HC passes interim relief to Hindustan Unilever

Tanvi Sinha

The Bombay High Court led by single-judge bench of Justice Colabawalla put a stay on the advertisements of the USV Pvt. Ltd. owned, Sebamed soap over the ongoing issue of them allegedly disparaging soaps made by Hindustan Unilever (HUL).

HUL stated that its soap is in general extremely gentle to the skin and not harmful whatsoever and alleged that Sebamed has not only disparaged soaps but also infringed on their registered copyright.

Sebamed headed by Shashi Ranjan, contended that the ad was not targeted towards any company but was meant to highlight how the Sebamed soaps are beneficial with their pH 5.5 range.

He further stated that they are an organisation with a scientific brand reputation and all their claims are backed by information and data.

The purpose of highlighting the pH value in its campaign was to educate consumers of their skincare as they are not a gimmicky brand and only promise to give out products that maintain skin moisturisation levels.

Hence, their ad campaigns necessarily needed to be different from the ordinary Indian beauty advertisements that focus on claims with no information behind it.

However, the court said that it was clear that USV Pvt Ltd, the company behind Sebamed were aiming to ridicule the products made by the plaintiff and therefore it was clear that it amounted to disparagement.

The court further stated that it does seem by the impugned campaign that the defendant was trying to influence the mind of customers into not buying HUL’s products.

Therefore, their advertisements put a stay until the next hearing on 14th January.