Dabur and Marico in court over honey packaging

Legal dispute on imitation of trade dress

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Dabur and Marico
Dabur accused Marico of imitating its bottle, label, and packaging

Dabur and Marico, are fighting a legal battle over Marico’s newly launched Saffola honey in the Delhi high court. Dabur accused Marico of imitating its bottle, label, and packaging. According to the documents submitted to the court, Marico has allegedly copied the bottle shape, the yellow cap, the dome-shaped label, and the use of honeycombs.

 

In its interim order dated 17 July 2020, the Delhi high court mentions that the overall comparison of the two products prima facie show a similarity, which can confuse the minds of the consumer even though Marico’s brand name Saffola is prominent on the bottle.

 

According to news reports, the interim injunction in favor of Dabur, says that in the absence of an injunction, the plaintiff would suffer irreparable loss. In addition, the court clarified that this interim injunction would not apply to the products already sold by Marico (the defendant). The company will maintain accounts thereof, which will be submitted to the court. The next hearing of this case is scheduled in August.

 

Marico’s spokesperson said to the financial press that the company would continue to manufacture and sell Saffola Honey. Mumbai-based Marico started operating in India in 1990 and currently sells many products under the brand name Saffola including oil, oats, and packaged foods. Saffola honey (the packaging of which is being questioned), was added in the portfolio in June.

 

Delhi-based Dabur is an Indian consumer goods company founded in 1884. The FMCG company manufactures ayurvedic medicine and natural consumer products. Dabur started selling honey with its brand name in 1965 and adopted new packaging in 2013 while retaining the significant elements of the trade-dress and essential features cited in the case.

 

In today’s complex trade environment, the protection of intellectual property is fundamental. The security of an investment and innovation in creating a product directly promotes innovation and research, which also applies to packaging or trade dress (image and overall appearance). The Trade Dress laws in India have come up mainly by the court rulings in the absence of a lucid framework. The need is to provide protection of intellectual property rights and tackle unfair trade practices. The courts have to decide whether the product’s overall similarity is substantial for the likelihood of confusion among consumers to result in infringement.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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Technical Editor - Mandeep Kaur is working with IPP Group and holding editorial responsibilities for the IndiFoodBev and PSA Healthcare platforms. Earlier she handled editorial responsibilities of food, beverage, and agriculture publications at another publisher. A gold-medalist in M Tech (Food Technology), she has hands-on experience in operating different types of instruments related to physico-chemical testing of grains and flour. She has worked at Evalueserve in the Intellectual Property (IP) division for more than three years handling projects in the life sciences domain.

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