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Delhi HC says it can't decide shampoo quality as stated in ads

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NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has sent a message to petitioners that it would turn into a lab if it starts entertaining all claims made in media adverts by companies about their products.  

Dismissing a series of suits filed by Proctor & Gamble Home Products Private Limited (P&G) and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) against each other’s shampoo advertisements that they claimed were disparaging in nature and hurting their reputations, the Delhi HC said it “can’t decide shampoo quality.”

A news report in The Hindu newspaper stated last week the court would become a laboratory if it began investigating the correctness of the claims made by the firms.

The report quoted Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw as saying: “Neither are the courts equipped for such a probe, nor is that the role of the courts. If the court commences investigating the correctness of the claims, the courts would be converted into labs determining the comparative merits of rival products.”

The Hindu report said P&G had contended that HUL, in a TV ad for its shampoo sachet, had disparaged its goods as being ineffective, compared to its own products — though without naming any P&G product. HUL retaliated with a cross suit against a series of P&G ads, which allegedly showed the superior dandruff effectiveness of its product in comparison to sachets with blue and dark blue curves — typical of HUL’s product.

The high court, however, said there was nothing disparaging about the ads and was quoted in the media report as saying,“It was held that if a product is good, adverse advertising may temporarily damage its market acceptability, but certainly not in the long run. The result of a lab test, relied on in the ads to claim their own products to be superior, are in my opinion not treated by the ordinary consumer as authoritative.”

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