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MRTPC restrains Cello from airing comparative ads

31-December-2005
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MRTPC restrains Cello from airing comparative ads

The Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has asked Cello Pens and Stationery Pvt Ltd, which makes Maxriter and Pin Point pens, not to telecast an advertisement in which it compares its product with that of another manufacturer.

The commission was passing an order on an application by the Chennai-based G.M. Pens International Pvt Ltd, which makes the Reynolds pens in India.

G.M. Pens had filed an application in 2003 stating that advertisements by Cello for Maxriter pen compared its product with that of another (unnamed in the advertisement) which showed the colours of the pen - white body with a transparent mouthpiece, which was deceptively similar to the well established Reynolds 045 Fine Carbure pen.

In February 2003, the commission granted an injunction restraining Cello from advertising in the manner mentioned by the petitioner.

G.M. Pens had also sought the commission's order under Section 12A of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, to restrain Cello from advertising that Cello Maxriter was capable of writing for 4,000 metres.

According to the commission, the petitioner had filed a number of tests conducted by it to show that the writing distance in metres of Reynolds 045 was much more than Cello Maxriter.

The commission said the respondent (Cello Pens and Stationery Pvt Ltd) could have given the claim of writing of 4,000 metres of its product after a proper test and burden of proof of correctness of the claim was also on the respondent. "Therefore the claim of the respondent that its pen is superior and writes up to 4,000 metres, whereas the other pen breaks down at 2,000 metres is not correct."

The commission noted that it "cannot be doubted that in the television commercial the other pen shown is the product of the applicant (G.M. Pens)."

"Though its name has not been shown, but it appears from the advertisement that the other pen shown is of white body with transparent mouth piece which gives an impression that it is the product of the claimant," it added. It further said the impugned advertisement not only disparaged the petitioner's product but also made a false claim of writing 4,000 metres by the pen produced by the respondent.

The commission maintained the temporary injunction granted in February 2003 and ordered that Cello shall not telecast, transmit or broadcast advertisement, television commercials or in any other manner or media claiming that Cello Maxriter pen was capable of writing 4,000 metres.

G.M. Pens also objected to another advertisement where Cello compares its Pin Point with another pen - white body with a transparent blue mouthpiece in a blue background - and says that only the Cello Pin Point writes continuously.

The commission said the impugned advertisement disparaged the goods of the applicant and was likely to prejudice their interest and also the interest of the general public. It restrained Cello from telecasting this advertisement by making reference to any of the petitioner's pen with white body and blue transparent mouthpiece.

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