Patanjali mired in controversy once again

The brand Emami is a well known name in the FMCG(Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector in India. Recently, Emami had levelled accusations against Patanjali Ayurved Limited of copying the design as well as the trademark of its ‘Kesh King’ brand of hair tonic.

Emami had launched the product ‘Kesh King’ in the year 2015. This product was developed by Sanjeev Kumar Juneja of SBS Biotech in the year 2008. The product was being sold and marketed through SBS Biotech of which Sanjeev Juneja was a partner.  The trademark ‘Kesh King’ was registered in his name on June 9, 2008. He had also registered the unique design of the bottle with the Controller of Patent and Design and Trade Marks on 14th September, 2011. Both these rights were assigned to Emami by two separate deeds dated 12th June, 2015.   The product claims to contain an ayurvedic mixture which helps to reduce hair and scalp problems. Emami is one of the leading players in the FMCG market in India and it launches products which mostly have an ayurvedic base. However, today Patanjali is one of the prime competitors in the FMCG industry launching numerous products, each adopting the advantages of using ayurvedic products.

Emami had  filed a case against Patanjali’s Kesh Kanti before the Calcutta High Court stating that the use of the words ‘Kesh Kanti’ by Patanajali infringed its trademark . Emami claimed before the court that the words ‘Kesh King’ and ‘Kesh Kanti’ are phonetically similar and the even the manner and style in which ‘Kesh King’ is written on the hair oil was copied by Patanjali’s ‘Kesh Kanti’. The Calcutta High Court stated that there is a prima facie case of infringement of design and hence has restrained Patanjali from using the registered design for 10 weeks from the date of the order. The Court further stated that the respondents have the liberty to seek for modification of the order, after serving a notice about the same to the petitioners.  It is pertinent to note that this is not the first time that Patanjali has been caught in a web of controversy. Earlier in November 2015, the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against companies for advertisements that were misleading. Patanjali’s claim that the Kesh Kanti Oil helped to give relief from hair loss and greying were not substantiated with clinical evidence. It is also important to note at this junction that the court did not delve in to the allegations of trademark infringement and passing off against Patanjali in this instant case.

However, following the institution of the suit before the Calcutta High Court, it has been reported that Emami has presented a letter detailing the settlement terms with Patanjali, and the case has been withdrawn.

Authored by Sudha Sameekshya

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