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The Legal Affair

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Delhi High Court Dismisses Dettol’s Plea to Halt Santoor’s Defamatory Advertisement

Delhi High Court Dismisses Dettol’s Plea to Halt Santoor’s Defamatory Advertisement

Factual Matrix 

In the case of Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Limited & Anr v Wipro Enterprises (P) Limited a suit filed by Reckitt Benckiser (India) Private Limited, the manufacturer of Dettol Claimed that santoor advertisement was disparaged. The small girl in the Santooradvertisementg wanted to play with her mother. However, her mother was working in the garden, so her hands were filthy and rough. She uses Santoor Hand Wash to wash her hands before playing with her daughter. The small girl encourages her mother to continue playing with her since she is so taken aback by how soft her mother’s hands are. The hands are so soft that you don’t want to want to leave them, a voice-over says. The mother strokes her daughter’s cheeks before taking an ordinary hand-wash-branded plastic bottle off the shelf. According to Dettol, the bottle that is being removed in the advertisement has the same form as Dettol Hand Wash.

Argument Advance 

Dettol claimed that in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has caused individuals to regularly wash their hands, the advertising took greater significance. Arguments were made that the advertisement successfully discredits Dettol by claiming that it lacks moisturising or hand-softening characteristics, demonstrating its inferiority to Santoor.

Santoor’s producer Wipro Enterprise claimed that the commercial makes no reference to Dettol’s characteristics and only mentions that Santoor contains sandal, which Dettol does not, and that sandal has skin-softening properties. Further, he asserted that Santoor’s USP is that it is created from natural components and is based on Ayurveda and that its advertisements urge potential customers to select Santoor products over competing ones. That, however, does not amount to any indication that any other product in the market is dangerous in any way.

Court verdict 

The Delhi High Court’s single judge, Justice C. Hari Shankar, dismissed Dettol’s request to stop Wipro Enterprises from airing advertising that would have promoted Dettol while allegedly disparaging the latter and instead held that the Santoor Hand Wash advertisement did not do either.

Justice Hari Shankar emphasised that the entire recital solely refers to Santoor and that there is no direct mention of any attribute or property of Dettol in the commercial. According to the statement, the main message of the advertising is to praise Santoor as being superior to other comparable products and mention that it contains sandals, a plant known to moisturise skin. The Bench highlighted that it would be reading too much into the advertising to infer anything negative about Dettol.

He also argued that the act of removing a bottle similar to Dettol from the shelf took about two seconds and that the sole message sent was to choose Santoor over other hand washes like Dettol. The Court determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the application and denied the request for an injunction against the transmission or display of the contested commercial.