The Bombay High Court has granted an ad-interim ex-parte injunction to Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in a suit filed by HUL against the advertisements of Sebamed, said HUL in a statement on Monday.

German personal care brand Sebamed had likened HUL’s beauty soaps to their detergent bars in an advertisement. “Did you know the pH of Lux is the same as Rin?” it asked in a print campaign. This allegation kicked up a furore, with HUL promptly hitting back with an ad from Dove saying it was recommended by dermatologists.

“In terms of the Order, pending hearing and final disposal of the matter, USV Private Limited (Sebamed is marketed by USV) and its affiliates, and their advertising agencies were restrained by an injunction from, in any manner, using, telecasting or broadcasting or communicating to the public the TVC, newspaper advertisements, hoardings and such other material in any language or any other content of similar nature,” HUL said. The matter will now come up on January 14.

HUL confirmed the development and welcomed the order, it added.

“In their advertisement, Sebamed had claimed that Dove, Lux and Pears, well-known soap brands that HUL has been marketing for decades, had higher pH, which harmed sensitive skin. In the advertisement, Sebamed had compared Lux and Pears with RIN, a detergent bar marketed by HUL, and implied Dove was an inferior product due to being pH neutral,” the company said.

‘Disparaging campaign’

The injunction Order was passed by the Bombay High Court after HUL showed to the Court the “disparaging campaign” launched by Sebamed against HUL’s well-known brands, HUL added. “The court held that HUL has made a strong prima facie case for grant of ad-interim relief,” it added.

“The Court recorded the submissions of HUL that the advertisement campaign denigrates its brands and products, does not take into account the full formulations of the products in question, and misleads consumers only on the basis of pH. The court order acknowledges that the advertisement’s purpose was not to promote a product by Sebamed but to discourage the consumer from purchasing HUL’s products,” the company said.

“HUL’s brands are time-tested and have always delivered on the promise they have made to their consumers… Sebamed’s advertisement in question is misleading consumers on soap efficacy during these difficult times, and further denigrating and disparaging well-known brands like Lux, Dove, Pears and Rin,” said Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs, HUL.