The Rivalry Between NIVEA & Ponds Brand : Explained

What is the fight going on between India’s one of the leading beauty brands?

The famous beauty brands NIVEA and PONDS, that sights a common view at almost every Indian woman’s dressing table seems to be caught up in rivalry.

What’s the rivalry about?
In 2021, Beierdorf AG the parent company of NIVEA creams dragged Hindustan Unilever the creator of Ponds cream to the Delhi high court, accusing that Ponds salesperson were engaged in unfair market practices across the city’s malls.

What is the Unfair sales practice NIVEA has accused Ponds off?
NIVEA alleged that ponds salesperson would pursue a customer, by asking them to put on Nivea cream at one side of hand and on the side ponds to compare the feels and effects of Ponds “super light gel” product.

Beiersdorf AG sought a “permanent injunction restraining infringement of trademark, unfair trade practices, disparagement, dilution and damages”.

What did Ponds replied to the lawsuit?
Ponds replied that they were just using a generic “blue tub” for their marketing practices. And the compay also argued that every “blue tub” doesn’t signify “NIVEA”, as they don’t have any monopoly over that. They said that they did not misrepresent the fact that the Ponds super light gel is lighter than the one in the blue tub.

What is NIVEA’s counter to Ponds’s reply?
NIVEA countered that Pond was making “wrong comparisons” as, Nivea’s heavy moisturizing doesn’t fall in the category of light moisturizers. NIVEA’s blue tub moisturizer contains 25 per cent fatty matter that makes it fall into heavy moisturizing category. The company also said the perfect rival of ponds’s super light gel would be NIVEA men fresh gel.

What the court ruling says?

Justice Anish Dayal heard the case and said, “of the opinion that the impugned activity undertaken by the defendant choosing to compare plaintiff’s ‘NIVEA’ products (either expressly or by implication or association) and the defendant’s products, especially those under the trademark ‘Ponds’, are prima facie misleading and disparaging, and cause irreversible prejudice to the plaintiff.”

On the colour blue too, HUL’s argument did not cut ice. The court concluded that “the use by defendant of a blue tub cream, in exactly the same distinctive colour, seems prima facie to have the objective to make a consumer draw association to the plaintiff’s product.” As things stand, the Ponds salesperson needs, at the very least, a different colour for its “blue tub”.