Hindustan Unilevertrademark case for Sunlightbrand to little knownKerala-based Thai Group ANKIT GILANI DEPT. OF PHARMACOLOGY & TOXICOLOGY NIPER AHMEDABAD
The oldest brand in the portfolio of Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever took a bath when its Indian affiliate Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) lost a trademark case for a 127-year-old soap called Sunlight to a little known southern soap maker.
The world’s first packaged and branded luxury soap, was produced by the British company lever brothers in 1884 Designed for washing clothes and general household use, the success of the product led to the name of for the company’s village for its workers, port sunlight Sunlight was launched in India in 1888. However, once detergent powders became popular, HUL began to push brands like Surf, Wheel and Rin. While Wheel was pitched against Nirma, Sunlight failed to make a mark nationally
Founded by Kerala-based entrepreneur PC Thahir in 1984, initially began with cement marketing. It later diversified into consumer products such as soaps, detergents and shampoos. Ashique Chemicals and Aghin Chemicals are among its group firms selling detergent powder brands like Starlight and Sunplus. The Thai Group earns revenues worth about 10 crore annually across India from Sunplus.
HUL filed a suit against Ashique Chemicals for infringement of its registered trademarks Sun and Sunlight.
Over a year ago, HUL had dragged the Kerala-based Thai Group to court for "infringing" on the Sunlight brand. HULs contention has been that Sun, Sunlight and Sunsilk are its registered trademarks, which Ashique and Aghin had trespassed on.
However, the Bombay High Court in its order in August 2011 dismissed HULs interim application on the grounds that the consumer products giant had not used its registered mark for detergent Sun ever since it got it registered 60 years ago. Sunlights all-India share is estimated to be less than 2-3% and the brand doesnt even have a national presence