P&G sues rival, claiming false advertising and patent infringement

August 23, 2016

Procter & Gamble Co. filed a lawsuit alleging that Edgewell Personal Care Co., a rival of P&G’s Gillette razor division, engaged in false advertising, unfair competition and patent infringement as well as deceptive acts and practices.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in New York centers on what the Cincinnati-based company (NYSE: PG) stated were false claims made against Gillette’s three-bladed Mach3 razor.

Multiple patent violations are also alleged in the suit, which focuses on Edgewell’s three-bladed private label razors. St. Louis-based Edgewell (NYSE: EPC) sells the razors in major grocery stores, pharmacies and other U.S. retail outlets. Its brands include Schick and Wilkinson Sword razors

In early July, weeks after the expiration of patents assigned to P&G, men’s razor cartridges made to fit Mach3 handles were introduced across the country under various different names that P&G collectively referred to as Schick PL. All were made and distributed by Edgewell, according to the suit.

The labeling included claims that Schick PL “shaves as good or better than Mach3” and that Schick PL “lubricating gel with vitamin E and aloe (results in) reduce(d) irritation.”

“These comparative claims are false and misleading as Schick PL does not shave as good or better than Mach3 and does not result in reduced irritation compared to Mach3,” the suit stated.

Replacement razor cartridges made and distributed by Edgewell contain labels that note they fit the Mach3 razor handle, the suit stated.

An Edgewell representative told me the company believes P&G’s allegations have no basis. “Gillette’s Mach3 patents have expired, and we are confident in the quality and performance of our private label products,” the Edgewel spokesperson stated. “We will vigorously defend ourselves against these meritless claims and will continue to support our valued customers around the world.”

The Personna Private Brands Group of Edgewell claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of private label razors. Gillette, which was founded in 1895, manufactures razors used by more than 750 million people worldwide.

(By Barrett J. Brunsman)