To tackle the problem of spurious brands, major FMCG companies and toy majors are now stepping up their action plans. For instance, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) and ITC Ltd-Foods Division are directly taking action against the manufacturers of copycat brands with the help of their legal departments. On the other hand HLL, Procter & Gamble, Marico and Britannia have joined hands with Ficci’s nationwide efforts to tackle counterfeit brands.
On GPCL’s current action plan to curb the growing menace of spurious brands, says Godrej Consumer Products executive director & president Hoshedar K Press: “Whenever we come across spurious brands, we take stringent action via the police authorities and our legal people. Off late, we find many copycat brands of Godrej hairdyes (powder) and Eazy. Whenever such incidents come to our notice, we immediately alert our legal department.”
Likewise, ITC Ltd-Foods division takes stringent action against marketers who sell duplicate brands of its atta brand Aashirvaad, says the company’s divisional chief executive Ravi Nawari. “With our legal and corporate communication departments and the police, we take action against these copycat brands,” he adds.
Recently, Mattel Toys (India) Pvt Ltd carried out a major anti-counterfeiting action against manufacturers of counterfeit bags and apparel printers in places like Byculla, Dadar and Central Bombay in Mumbai. According to Mattel Toys India managing director Sanjay Luthra, with the efforts of the police force, the raid on these premises resulted in the seizure of 16,000 Barbie stickers, 60 t-shirts and 18 printing screens bearing the impugned trade mark ‘Barbie’, its logo and illegal impersonations of Barbie.
Says Mr Luthra: “This is the first raid we conducted in the last four years. We plan to take stringent action against more such outfits. Mattel Inc, its Indian subsidiary and genuine licensees were losing crores of rupees in revenue apart from loss to the exchequer. The cost of protecting Mattel Inc’s Intellectual Property Rights is part of the cost of doing business in India.”
Today, copycat brands of Lifebuoy and Fair & Lovely are found in many rural as well as urban markets. According to FMCG analysts, there are many duplicate brands such as Lifebath and Life Bar (all identical twins of HLL’s Lifebuoy) which are floating around as originals in the Indian market place. And then, there are many copycat brands that parade as fairness brands in the rural markets.
How does HLL tackle these counterfeits? Says a spokesperson from HLL: “We have joined Ficci’s nationwide effort under the aegis of the Brand Protection Committee (BPC) to curb this menace.”
Like HLL, there are other FMCG majors who have joined hands with BPC to take action against spurious brands in India. Recently, the Delhi Police in collaboration with BPC nailed down one of Delhi’s kingpin counterfeit printers.
Says Procter & Gamble India executive director Ashok Chhabra: “The police deserve special credit for a swift operation. Such action will protect consumers’ health and the Government from revenue loss.”
The menace of counterfeit brands has long been plaguing the Indian FMCG sector. However, the scene is changing rapidly with the united efforts of major players in this segment.