SC sends Eveready Industries plea back to Calcutta HC

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 26 2013, 07:43am hrs
The Supreme Court on Thursday remanded battery manufacturer Eveready Industries appeal back to the Calcutta High Court in a dispute with Gillette India over the latter's advertisement, which allegedly cast aspersions on the former's red-coloured battery. Gillette India makes Duracell, a competing product.

While Eveready is one of the leading brands in the dry cell category that uses the red colour predominantly in its packaging, Gillette has been advertising that its Duracell batteries were 10 times better than ordinary stuff.

A bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishan while refusing any interim relief asked the HC to decide the matter expeditiously within two months.

Eveready, which has a dominant effect on the indigenous market, had challenged the HC's December last year's order that did not impose a blanket ban

on the Gillette's ad but asked it to alter the alleged disparaging ad. According to Eveready, mere adding of a voice over or a change of font, would not be sufficient to protect its product from disparaging attempt on the part of Duracell.

Eveready senior counsel AM Singhvi and KV Vishwanathan argued that the colour red always played a dominant role in its product and Duracell was making a disparaging remark about its products by indicating to the public that its batteries were inferior to Duracell.

Gillette in its defence contended that it meant zinc/carbon batteries as ordinary batteries that were proved to be inferior to alkaline batteries, as the latter would last long. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi and L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for Gillette, argued that the company did not have any intention to make any disparaging remark about any rival product and a disparaging action brought by Eveready earlier in 2006 failed before an advertising board.

Gillette further argued that there could not be any monopoly on any colour, including red. Besides, Gillette had been using the ad since 2006 and Eveready had belatedly filed the suit in 2012, it said.