Trademark Tussle between Hindustan Unilever and Emami: Fairer-than-a-FairyTale?


Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), a subsidiary of British-Dutch multinational company Unilever PLC and the home-grown Kolkata-based FMCG firm Emami have a history of trademark conflicts and defaming each other in in ads and marketing strategies. In some some of the cases, Emami has had the upper hand as it has also always enjoyed a greater market share which is currently over 65% with respect to the men’s fairness cream category. However, on this occasion HUL has taken the leap and moved ahead. According to a research carried out by “Research and Markets (PR Newswire Association LLC)”, the women’s fairness cream category is anticipated to achieve market revenues of more than Rs. 5,000 crore by year 2023. Rising supremacy of media and entertainment, constant pestering by the society to look well groomed all the time, inferiority complex from colleagues at workplace, the yearning to try out new products launched in the country, rise in number of young population, etc are some of the factors which has driven the market of women’s fairness cream market in the last decade or so.


Recently, the move by HUL to rebrand its bestselling skin lightening cream — “Fair & Lovely”, and by removing the terms fair, white and light from its brand packaging has come too late (based on the idea of better-late-than-never and not inculcating proactive attitudinal change) and after successfully feeding the minds of millions of Indians in equating fair skin with beauty. US healthcare and FMCG giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) followed suit and decided to stop the sale of its skin-whitening creams globally, including India. Also, french personal care maker the L’Oreal Group has decided to make a change and and remove the tags like ‘white’, ‘fair’, ‘light’ from its skincare range.

It is to be noted here that atleast they’ve realized and have made a conscious decision to change and rebrand their products. A big chunk of the change of perception stems from the #BlackLivesMatter movement and we are thankful for the traction it got around the world in turn encouraging many corporations to re-assess their business model and marketing policies for the better in identifying discrimination, racial slur and inequality after the death of George Floyd in the United States.

 A fair-skin obsession in a country of more than a billion people where the majority of people are brown (so as to say) has been a lifelong grooming in selfloathing and discrimination. However, these brands are not the only guilty ones, Indian film industry, our ancestors – all have at some point in time have continuously reminded us to focus our energies on being fair and in turn inculcating the significance of beauty and attractiveness.

Read the full article HERE.


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