The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has recommended the initiation of proceedings against M/s Hilal Foods (Pvt.) Limited for disseminating false and misleading information regarding the exclusivity and affiliation of the brand name “HAJMOLA”.
According to the inquiry report of the CCP, M/s Dabur India Limited and M/s Dabur Pakistan (Pvt.) Limited Jointly (the ‘Complainant’) through The Tareen Chambers, filed a complaint against M/s Hilal Food (Pvt.) Limited (the ‘Respondent’) with the Competition Commission of Pakistan (the ‘Commission’) for alleged violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010 (the ‘Act’), pertaining to Deceptive Marketing Practices.
It was alleged in the complaint that the Sindh High Court (hereinafter referred to as “SHC”) had passed interim orders to permit both the Complainant and Respondent to use the trademark “HAJMOLA”, But the Respondent in his recent letters to Pakistan Broadcasting Association (the ‘PBA’) has circulated misleading/false information regarding the association and use of trademark “HAJMOLA”, and by doing so has distorted healthy competition in the market.
Based on the preliminary fact-finding, the Competent Authority initiated an inquiry in accordance with sub section (2) of Section 31 of the Act by appointing Mr. Mohammad Salman Zafar, Director (OFT), Ms. Marryum Pervaiz, Joint Director (OFT), and Mr. Amin Akbar, Management Executive (OFT) as inquiry officers (collectively the ‘Enquiry Officers’) to conclude the inquiry.
The Complainant is a well-known registered Company under relevant laws of India and Pakistan and carrying on International and countrywide business under the trade name “HAJMOLA”. The Complainant was founded in 1884, in Kolkata India with the largest herbal and natural product portfolios in the world.
The flagship product of Complainant namely “Dabur Hajmola” is an Ayurvedic digestive tablet, having a vibrant presence in Pakistan and worldwide, including countries like India, the United Kingdom, United States of America, and the United Arab Emirates.
It is a well-known mark protected under the Paris Convention and material provisions of the trademark laws of Pakistan, inter alia, s. 86 of the Trade Marks Ordinance 2001.
The inquiry report concluded that in light of the facts, it appears that the conduct of the Respondent, prima facie, amounts to disseminate false and misleading information regarding the exclusivity and affiliation of the brand name “HAJMOLA” despite the interim order of the Court which is still intact, in violation of Section 10(1) in terms of Section 10 (2)(b) of the Act which prohibits the distribution of false or misleading information to consumers related to character, place of production, properties and quality of goods.
In view of the analysis, it can also be concluded that the conduct of the Respondent, prima facie, has the potential to inflict harm upon the goodwill and business interest of the Complainant and cause confusion among customers through the dissemination of false and misleading information related to ownership of the disputed brand name of “HAJMOLA”, in violation of Section 10(1) in terms of Section 10(2) (a) & (b) of the Act.
The dissemination of false and misleading information has a direct impact on the public at large. It is in the interest of the general public and to create fair competition in the market, the Respondent should be stopped to circulate the information in an unfair and misleading manner and be encouraged to resort to the marketing practices which are transparent and give consumers/customers true and correct information.
Therefore, in light of the above-mentioned findings, it is recommended that the Commission may consider the initiation of proceedings against M/s Hilal Foods (Pvt.) Limited under Section 30 of the Act for the prima facie, violation of Section 10 of the Act, CCP added.