HC again bars Patanjali ads, this time for chyawanprash

The Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered the Baba Ramdev-fronted Patanjali Ayurved Ltd to stop airing advertisements to promote its brand of chyawanprash, after its rival Dabur said the commercials disparaged its product.

This comes soon after the Bombay High Court restrained Patanjali from advertising its bath soap brand, which allegedly disparaged rival Hindustan Unilever's and Reckitt Benckiser's soap brands like Pears, Lux and Dettol.

In an interim order, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar restrained Patanjali from airing, telecasting and circulating the chyawanprash advertisements in any manner till September 26, the next date of hearing.

"We are prima facie satisfied that an interim protection is necessary in the matter," it said.

The bench also issued notice to Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and sought their stand on the plea filed by Dabur India Ltd, which claims to be the largest manufacturer of ayurvedic medicine and natural consumer products.

Besides seeking a restraining order, Dabur India has also sought a damages of Rs2.01 crore from Patanjali.

Dabur Chyawanprash, with annual sales of Rs280 crore, is a market leader in the category. In its order, the Delhi HC bench noted, "We are satisfied that the appellant has made out a prima facie case for grant of ad-interim protection. Undoubtedly, grave and irreparable loss and damage would ensure to the appellant if interim protection is not granted."

Dabur India moved the larger bench against a 1 September order of a single-judge bench refusing its plea that Patanjali be restrained from airing the commercials.

Challenging the interim order, Dabur alleged that the single judge had failed to appreciate that the "illegal trade activity" of Patanjali was causing irreparable and incalculable loss to it.

It said that Patanjali's "trade dress and packaging" in the advertisements were too similar to Dabur's and any illiterate and semi-literate customer can easily be fooled.

The complaint was about an advertisement on social media in which a bottle with a blurred trademark and name was shown.

Dabur submitted that "The trade dress and the overall get up of Dabur Chyawanprash packaging on account of acquired distinctiveness, constitutes a trademark within the meaning of the Trademarks Act 1999 and thus it ought to be protected and prevented against the dilution, misuse, misappropriation and acts of infringement."

A Dabur India spokesperson told The Times of India, ''We would not be able to comment further as the matter is sub judice."

A Patanjali Ayurved spokesperson said, "We will file our reply to the honourable court after seeking the details of the order. Our communication strategy is simple. We want to convey to the consumers the benefits of using our healthy and natural products as against other products which may be harmful."

Earlier, Reckitt Benckiser had secured ad-interim injunction from the Delhi HC against Patanjali's bath soap television commercial which was allegedly deprecating the multinational's Dettol soap.