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SC refuses to stop sale of Britannia’s digestive biscuits in packaging row with ITC

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-05-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to restrain Britannia Industries Ltd from selling its NutriChoice Zero brand of digestive biscuits in an appeal by rival ITC Ltd challenging an order permitting its sale.

The matter was brought before a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi which issued notice to Britannia Ltd and sought its response before the next date of hearing.

The court was responding to an appeal by ITC Ltd against a 10 March order of the division bench of the Delhi high court that had set aside the operation of an injunction order against Britannia, allowing the company to produce and sell its brand of digestive biscuits.

The injunction had been granted on a petition by ITC Ltd that claimed the packaging of NutriChoice Zero was a copy of its Sunfeast Farmlite Digestive All Good biscuits.

It was held that ITC’s use of the colour combination could not be seen to have gained enough visibility as to prevent competitors from using it.

The products of both companies were sold in blue and yellow packaging during the course of the case, but ITC informed the court that Britannia had later changed the colour scheme for its biscuit packaging. It adopted a new yellow and purple packaging for its digestive biscuits.

On 6 September, justice S. Muralidhar had restrained Britannia from manufacturing NutriChoice Zero, and asked the company to phase out its existing stock in the market within four weeks.

Britannia had initially agreed to change the blue colour in its packaging but refused to drop yellow. It told the court that yellow was the dominant colour that it had been using for packaging variants of its digestive biscuits and could not consider changing that.

The company, however, later retracted its offer to change the blue colour and brought a counter-suit against ITC on 1 September for its use of yellow on its packaging of digestive biscuits.

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