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.