An Indian court has directed consumer goods maker Emami Ltd (EMAM.NS) to give bigger rival Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HLL.NS) seven days notice before initiating legal proceedings over the 'Glow & Handsome' trademark, according to a July 6 order here

The Indian arm of global consumer giant Unilever (ULVR.L) said on July 2 it would rebrand its skin-lightening cream ‘Fair & Lovely’ to ‘Glow & Lovely’.

The company said its skin cream for men will be called ‘Glow & Handsome’, but Emami said it had launched ‘Glow & Handsome’ digitally one week before HUL announced the name change.

Hindustan Unilever first applied for the trademarks, ‘Glow & Lovely’ and ‘Glow & Handsome’ in September 2018, application for which was rejected in 2019, and re-applied in June 2020, the company said in a petition to the high court in the western state of Maharashtra.Hindustan Unilever and Emami did not respond to requests for comment and the court has set July 27 as the next hearing date.

The decision to rebrand its line of skin creams came after Hindustan Unilever faced criticism that the name ‘Fair & Lovely’ promoted negative stereotypes towards darker skin tones.

While granting an ex-parte relief to HUL, the court observed that prima-facie it does appear that having filed its trademark application in September 2018 and subsequently on 25th June 2020 for the mark ‘Glow & Handsome’, the HUL is the prior adopter of the said mark.

“It prima facie appears that the Defendant has adopted the ‘Glow and Handsome mark for the first time on June 25, 2020, and has not commercially used it till date,” ruled the court, while directing the Emami to give HUL, 7 days prior written notice before moving to any court for any relief.