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Delhi High Court Dismisses Suits in Long-running Horlicks, Complan Battle

Issued: February 01 2009
One part of the ongoing battle between GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and Horlicks and Heinz India finally saw an end before the Delhi High Court in early January, reports Rahul Chaudhry of Lall & Sethi. Lall & Sethi represents GSK.

The suit in the Delhi High Court was brought by GSK in response to print advertisements published by Heinz on December 2, 2008, and December 6, 2008, in the Times of India. It was alleged by GSK that advertisements for Complan, a nutritional supplement drink manufactured by Heinz, were disparaging their competing Horlicks brand by calling it “cheap,” which GSK claimed meant that the brand was of an inferior quality.

On December 12, 2008, Chaudhry says, GSK tried to obtain an ex-parte injunction against Heinz with regard to the advertisements published in the print media by approaching the Delhi High Court. Counsel for Heinz India, Lall Lahiri & Salhotra, on learning this fact entered appearance and GSK was unable to obtain the ex-parte order.

On December 17, 2008, GSK and Horlicks brought another suit before the Delhi High Court against Complan advertisements in the electronic media, which came up for hearing on December 18, 2008, along with the first suit.

The High Court passed an order returning the civil suits filed before it by GlaxoSmithKline to the Bombay High Court. In the order, the Court also asked GSK and Horlicks to file a fresh suit before the Bombay High Court, if required, where a suit on similar lines, filed by Heinz is already pending.

Hearings in the matter took place on December 18 and 19 and the High Court reserved its judgment by an order dated December 19, 2008, which was finally pronounced on January 7, 2009. “The main objection of Heinz, regarding Delhi being an inappropriate forum since Horlicks was merely forum shopping, was accepted by the High Court,” says Chaudhry. “It remains to be seen whether GSK would prefer an appeal before the division bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court of India.”


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