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Litigation News

HUL gets ad-interim relief from Bombay High Court over Trademark tussle for "Glow & Handsome" with Emami [Read Order]

Emami (which owns Fair & Handsome) is now required to give written notice 7 days in advance before it can initiate any legal proceeding against HUL (which owns Fair & Lovely) over the trademark "Glow & Handsome."

Meera Emmanuel

The Bombay High Court on Monday directed that Emami Limited should give Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) prior written notice seven days in advance before it may choose to initiate any legal proceedings over the Trademark for "Glow & Handsome" with respect to skin lightening products (Hindustan Unilever Limited v. Emami Limited).

Respoding to a plea by HUL, the Court directed that Emamni should give "at least 7 clear days prior written notice" to HUL "before initiating any legal proceedings in any court or claiming any interim or ad-interim reliefs against the Plaintiff as threatened in the statements issued / made on behalf of the Defendant (Emami) against the Plaintiff’s use of the trademark ‘GLOW & HANDSOME’."

While granting this ad-interim relief in HUL's favour, Justice BP Colabawalla observed,

"Considering the facts and circumstances of the present case, I believe that no harm or prejudice would be caused to the Defendant (Emami) if the said limited relief is granted."
Bombay High Court

HUL recently announced its decision to rebrand its skin lightening products Fair & Lovely (for women) and Men's Fair & Lovely (for men) to Glow & Lovely and Glow & Handsome, respectively.

The move prompted swift press statements threatening legal action from Emami, which had launched its rebranded skin lightening product "Glow & Handsome" last week. Earlier the product was named Fair & Handsome.

This, in turn, led HUL to move an urgent application before the Bombay High Court asserting that HUL had made applications to trademark Glow & Lovely and Glow & Handsome as early as September 2018 (i.e.before Emami is stated to have filed applications to trademark Glow & Handsome).

Whereas the Registrar of Trademarks refused to allow the registration of Glow & Handsome as HUL's trademark in 2019, an appeal against this decision was made which is still pending before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board. Thereafter, it is submitted that another set of applications were made in June this year to trademark the labels of Glow & Lovely and Glow & Handsome.

In any case, HUL contended that it was the prior adopter and user of the trademark ‘Glow & Handsome.' It was argued that since Emami has not used the said trademark, Emami is not entitled to disturb HUL's "honest and bonafide use" of Glow & Handsome which was HUL's "prior adopted trade mark."

On Monday, Justice Colabawalla found prima facie merit in HUL's plea and granted it ad-interim relief in the matter. The Court observed,

"Prima facie it does appear that having filed its trade mark application in September 2018 and subsequently on 25th June 2020 for the mark ‘GLOW & HANDSOME’, the Plaintiff (HUL) is the prior adopter of the said mark. Further, from a perusal of the newspaper cutting at Exhibit-S to the Plaint, it prima facie appears that the Plaintiff has already started commercial advertisements in respect of the trademark ‘GLOW & HANDSOME’."

The Court further guaged from press reports that it prima facie appeared that Emami had adopted the "Glow & Handsome" mark for the first time on June 25, and that it has not used the same commercially till date.

As such, Jusice Colabawalla went on to note that, "The statements made by the Defendant (Emami) and published in various newspapers annexed to the Plaint do amount to a threat, however, whether they are unlawful or groundless, that is something that will have to be decided after hearing both the sides."

The matter has been posted to be taken up next on July 27.

Read the order:

Hindustan Unilever Limited v. Emami Limited - July 6 order.pdf
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