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HC bars Delhi firm’s advertisements linking Corona beer with coronavirus

Mexican manufacturers of Corona beer had approached Delhi High Court saying the ad was in 'bad taste' and demanded over Rs 2 crore in damages.

Mexican makers of Corona beer have demanded over Rs 2 cr in damages | Pexels
Mexican makers of Corona beer have demanded over Rs 2 cr in damages | Pexels

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court, in an interim order issued Monday, restrained a Delhi-based company from issuing advertisements linking the Mexican-made Corona beer with the coronavirus. 

Justice Rajiv Shakdher observed that the “statutory and commercial interests” of the Mexican manufacturers will get “jeopardised” if an injunction is not granted. 

“In the meanwhile, till the next date of hearing, the defendant, its employees, agents, officers, affiliated entities and all others acting for and on its behalf are injuncted from reproducing, broadcasting, communicating to the public, screening, publishing and distributing the impugned advertisement on any media or platform including the social media platforms,” the court ruled. 

The manufacturer of the beer, Cervecería Modelo de México, S. de R.L. de C.V. had approached the high court against Whiskin Spirits, which had worked as a distributor for the beer in 2014-15. 

The Mexican firm told the court that Whiskin Spirits had released an advertisement, in which its WhiskinCraft Whiskey is shown practising “social distancing” from Corona Extra Beer, “thereby indicating to the public that they too shall refrain from consuming plaintiff’s Corona Beer and instead choose the defendant’s ‘WhiskinCraft’ Whiskey as their preferred drink”.

Calling the advertisement as a comparison “bad in taste”, the company submitted that it “is causing incalculable harm and injury to the business, goodwill and reputation” of Corona beer. It has therefore demanded over Rs 2 crore in damages. 

The Mexican company was represented by advocates Pravin Anand, Shantanu Sahay, Aasish Somasi and Rohan Sharma.


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Prima facie case of disparagement: HC 

The court said the Mexican company has been able to demonstrate a prime facie case of “disparagement”. 

Disparagement means using false claims or statements about the competitor. This is barred by the Trademarks Act 1999, which while allowing comparative advertising, does not allow ads that might be misleading or detrimental to the competitor’s product.

“The balance of convenience also appears to be in favour of the plaintiff given the extent and nature of its market qua the aforementioned product,” the court further observed.

“It appears that the plaintiff’s statutory and commercial interests will get jeopardised if an ad interim injunction is not granted in its favour,” it added. 

Justice Shakdher therefore barred the Delhi-based company from publishing any such advertisements on any media or social media platforms, until the next date of hearing —  22 July. 


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