Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s (HUL) move to rebrand and rename its popular skincare product “Fair & Lovely” and “Men’s Fair & Lovely” brands to “Glow & Lovely” and “Glow & Handsome”, respectively, has landed in the Bombay high court.
The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major has moved for an injunction against Emami Ltd’s decision to take legal action against HUL for trademark violations.
HUL in its petition had been sought that it should be given at least of seven days’ notice before Emami initiates any legal proceedings as well. The court granted the interim relief on Monday.
HUL said Emami’s threats of legal action were baseless, as the company had applied for the trademark before Emami. But, Emami had been threatening legal recourse as it had launched ‘glow & handsome’ digitally one week before Hindustan Unilever, announcing the name change.
On 2 July, HUL had decided to rename its products to project a more inclusive idea of beauty.
HUL in its petition claimed that it had applied for a trademark of the names of the women’s and men’s products with the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trade Marks, under the ministry of commerce and industry, in September and October 2018, respectively.
The trademarks were denied on 26 July 2019.
The company reapplied for the names on 17 June and 25 June, respectively. The announcement was made on 2 July for the name change and the permission to sell the product under the new name came on 3 July, said HUL. Whereas Emami had made trademark applications, Hindustan Unilever, and the company is yet to launch a product under these names, it added.
The court, that after hearing preliminary arguments, observed that “prima facie” it does appear that HUL was the prior adopter of the mark as well, as it had been filed its trademark application first in September 2018, and subsequently on 25 June 2020.
“The statements that made by the defendant (Emami) do amount to a threat, Although, whether they are unlawful or groundless, that is something that would have to be decided after hearing both the sides,” the court said.
The court further directed the Emami to give HUL around seven days prior written notice before initiating legal proceedings as against it and posted the matter for further hearing on 27 July.