MUMBAI/KOLKATA: Even before Hindustan Unilever’s (HUL’s) rebranded ‘Glow & Lovely’ (erstwhile Fair & Lovely) could hit stores, its newly christened men’s range ‘Glow & Handsome’ may have hit a trademark hurdle, with rival Emami claiming it has already launched ‘Emami Glow & Handsome’ digitally.
Within a couple of hours of HUL announcing the new name for Fair & Lovely, its flagship skincare product, Emami issued a statement expressing shock over the decision to rename the men’s range as ‘Glow & Handsome’. Emami has termed HUL’s move as an “unfair business practice”. Emami director Mohan Goenka, who looks after the brand, told TOI, “We will surely take legal action.”
Launched in 2004, Emami’s Fair & Handsome created the men’s fairness category in India, even while Fair & Lovely was a dominant fairness cream in the market. Market research revealed that men were frequent users of fairness creams, which were otherwise targeted at women. HUL then came up with a range of products for men under ‘Fair & Lovely Men’. The men’s fairness market size is now approximately Rs 450-500 crore, and Emami is a leader with 65% share.
Emami said, “We are shocked to learn of HUL’s decision to rename its men’s range of Fair & Lovely as ‘Glow & Handsome’. Emami, maker of ‘Fair and Handsome’ brand of men’s grooming products, is the market leader in men’s fairness cream with legal ownership of the trademarks. We have already launched a week ago our brand ‘Emami Glow & Handsome’ digitally and necessary application has already been made to the relevant authorities.” Emami said HUL’s move (to brand its men’s range as ‘Glow & Handsome’) “goes to prove Fair and Handsome’s strong brand equity in the market that the competition is wary of”.
In response to TOI’s query on the matter, an HUL spokesperson said, “We don’t wish to make any comment on the statement made by them (Emami). We are fully conscious of our rights and our position. We will protect it fully in all appropriate forums.”MZM Legal managing partner Zulfiquar Memon said, “Emami’s objection to HUL’s using of the name stems from the fact that Emami claims ownership to the trademark. It would be interesting to know at what stage is Emami’s trademark application for the said name at the moment. It is only after that can one ascertain how good a case Emami has to protect the brand. HUL, on the other hand, can only put up a strong defence to this objection if they already have the said trademark registered in their name or if they have filed for this name, before Emami. The respective legal teams will need to notify each other and probe into this further.”
Sources said Emami applied for the trademark ‘Emami Glow & Handsome’ over a month ago. It was only two weeks ago, on June 17, that HUL had approached the Controller General of Patent Design & Trademark to register the name ‘Glow & Lovely’, as reported by agencies earlier.
In the statement announcing the new brand name for Fair & Lovely, HUL said the name change is the next step in the evolution of its skin care portfolio to “a more inclusive vision of positive beauty”. “Over the next few months, Glow & Lovely will be on the shelves, and future innovations will deliver on this new proposition,” the company said.
Following growing criticism against racism, Johnson & Johnson decided to discontinue its fairness range, while Unilever and L’Oreal said they would stop using words like ‘fair/fairness’, ‘white/whitening’ and ‘light/lightening’ for their personal products.
Over the last couple of years, HUL had changed the proposition of Fair & Lovely from fairness to ‘glow’. It had removed the cameo with two faces as well as the shade guides from the packaging of Fair & Lovely. HUL CMD Sanjiv Mehta reiterated at the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday that the move to rebrand Fair & Lovely was a well thought-out decision, which was in the works for a while now.
Fair & Lovely has an over 40% share of the face care market, and it is among the top five brands in HUL’s portfolio, the others being Lifebuoy, Surf Excel, Wheel and Brooke Bond. The market for face creams in India is roughly Rs 6,000 crore. Beauty and personal care, which houses the Fair & Lovely brand, contributes 45% to HUL’s annual revenues for approximately Rs 39,000 crore.
With Emami launching ‘Emami Glow & Handsome’ digitally, the company too appears to be moving away from words like ‘fair’ in its product range. However, this could not be independently confirmed. Last week, when TOI asked Emami whether it would follow HUL’s move to drop ‘fair’ from the product name, an Emami spokesperson had said, “We, as responsible corporate citizens, value consumer sentiments and take cognizance of the holistic approach that is required to be taken to address their needs. We are studying all implications currently and evaluating internally to decide our next course of action.”