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After Hindustan Unilever moves Bombay HC, Dettol suspends handwash ad

Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Ltd, which produces Dettol hand wash, told Bombay High Court it will suspend its advertisement for a month, after Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), which produces Lifebuoy soap, moved court seeking damages and argued that while the world is struggling with coronavirus outbreak and World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidelines to use soap and water, the Dettol ad conveys soap cakes are useless, ineffective and cannot protect consumers from illness causing germs while handwash gives better protection.

HUL filed a plea before the court against Reckitt seeking restrain on broadcasting of the advertisement and damages to the tune of Rs 1 crore for allegedly creating scare amongst the general public by falsely propagating that soaps are useless. A single judge bench of Justice K R Shriram heard HUL's plea on Friday. HUL claimed it came across a TV commercial for promotion of Dettol Liquid Handwash on March 12 by which Reckitt disparaged 'Lifebuoy Soap' trademark as it is spreading a message that washing hands with soap and water is completely useless and handwash is only effective way to achieve ten times better protection from germs is false. It was submitted by HUL that as per WHO guidelines, washing hands with soap and water is an effective way to protect people from such a virus.

HUL in its plea stated, "Other products including alcohol-based sanitisers are recommended only when soap and water is not available. Moreover, nations across the world are communicating just the opposite and asking people to wash their hands with soaps and water." Senior counsel Chander Lall for Rickett (Dettol), however, opposed the plea and submitted that HUL could not prove that the soap shown in the advertisement is their product and therefore there was no infringement.

(inputs and image from

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