Andrex Flushed With Triumph At Court Verdict

01 June 1997

KIMBERLY CLARK won the day in its legal spat with fellow lavatory paper purveyor Fort Sterling. The latter launched a new loo-roll product Nouvelle in 1996, majoring on softness as its prime selling proposition. This theme was developed in an on-pack promotion which stated: 'Softness guaranteed - or we’ll exchange it for Andrex'. The promo’s small print clearly stated that Andrex was a competitive brand unconnected with Fort Sterling. This, however, cut no ice with the mighty KC which promptly sought a High Court injunction on the grounds of passing-off. Mr Justice Laddie found in favour of KC in as much as Fort Sterling’s disclaimer 'was insufficiently prominent to avoid an implication, certainly on first sight, that Andrex must be a related product to Nouvelle'. However, the view of ISP legal advisor Philip Circus is that the ruling does not imply that the basic concept of exchanging a product with a competitor’s brand is wrong or unsound. It is not the technique itself that was ruled out of order by the court, but the way it was presented on pack.