According to a filing made with the Delhi High Court, Amul, India's largest food brand, has filed a lawsuit against major manufacturer Hindustan Unilever (HUL) for using the line "better than butter" for its mayonnaise-based product.
Amul is a brand name by an apex cooperative organisation, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF), which today is jointly owned by some 2.8 million milk producers in the state of Gujarat.
Amul currently has a 90 per cent share in India's organised butter market and derives a majority of its revenue from the sale of its butter products, and is considered a name synonymous with butter.
In the filing, the company has accused HUL of portraying butter products as inferior to mayonnaise by using the said line in the television promos of its Kissan Creamy Spread.
In the advertisement, HUL claims that the mayonnaise-based product is three times richer with essential nutrients and contains half the calories of butter. Under the filing, the dairy cooperative has said to ordain that comparison between mayonnaise and butter is not permissible under Indian law.
“This [advertisement] is sending a false and misleading message to the consumers who may refrain from consuming butter,” it said, adding that the benefits of butter are well known and time-tested.
In the lawsuit, Amul made it clear that while the promo was not naming Amul's butter product specifically, a generic disparagement of a rival product without specifically identifying it was objectionable.
Legal representatives of both companies were unreachable for any response to queries on the lawsuit.
This is not the first time Amul has gone to the courts to protect its assets against what it claimed were fraudulent advertisements.
In 2007, Amul filed a similar lawsuit against margarine brand NutraLite from Zydus Cadila Ltd in the Ahmedabad City Civil Court.
While that lawsuit is still pending, Amul later launched its own margarine brand 'Delicious' followed by a low-fat butter version 'Amul Lite" to counter Nutralite.