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Sunday, 25 April 2004


The BBC reports that a Dutch judge has found that a degree of exaggeration is permissible in comparative advertising. Gillette took exception to Wilkinson Sword’s claims in its adverts that "independent tests and consumer research have shown that no other shaving system shaves smoother and softer than Quattro". Wilkinson counterclaimed that Gillette’s boast that its Mach3 Turbo shaving system was “the best a man can get” was false. However, Judge Schapen found that both ads were permissible and that "By a good legal tradition, some exaggeration is permissible, as long as it's not misleading in nature, because it will be sceptically received by the average consumer". Thus, both ads would be taken with a pinch of salt by consumers. Wilkinson’s ad was not found to be misleading even though the tests referred to had only been carried out on a sample of forty men, and in some of the tests, as few as nine men had been used. The two companies are also engaged in a patent battle in the US over three-headed shaving systems.

The IPKat (who is keen to hold on to his whiskers) points out that this case reminds him of the UK comparative advertising case of British Airways v Ryanair , where the judge held that a degree of exaggeration did not impair the fundamental honest of the comparative claim in question.

Close shaves here, here, here and here (the IPKat says don’t try this at home folks PLEASE!)

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