Paint AkzoNobel Paints Lanka (Pvt) Ltd has been taken to court over its position that its ‘Dulux’ brand is the only brand which conforms to international safety standards for lead and basing its claim on the global study ‘Lead in new decorative paints’ issued by IPEN and Toxics Link, two NGOs.
The plaintiff, Macksons Paints Lanka (Pvt) Ltd filed the case in the commercial high court of the Western Province on March 8 alleging that AkzoNobel has carried out its campaign through various forms of media and advertising campaigns and is asking for a judgment and decree of Rs.10 million as damages with legal interest.
AkzoNobel’s campaign comes at a time which is peak season for the paint industry, immediately prior to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year which falls in April. According to court documents, Macksons was granted an enjoining order and interim injunction till March 23, preventing and/or restraining the defendant and its agents from marketing the ‘Dulux’ brand as the only safe brand.
AkzoNobel Managing Director Gerald De Saram was overseas and couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to the petition, the attorney for the plaintiff stated that the report ‘Lead in new decorative paints’ issued by the NGO said that there are nine major companies producing paints in Sri Lanka including Macksons. The report stated that the NGO has tested ex-facie in terms of the report, paints from four brands but not of the plaintiff’s. The report has named the products of the companies and the companies of which the paints have been tested and concluded that the defendant company’s paints were the safest.
The petition said although the plaintiff has been named as a major producer of paints, its products have not been tested. ‘Acting on this self serving report, the defendant company has launched a campaign which will be seen by advertisements to state that of all the paints tested in Sri Lanka, only the product of the plaintiff conforms to international safety standards,’ the proceedings state.
It added that the defendant’s campaign has been designed with the Sinhala and Tamil New Year in mind which is a peak time in April. The attorney stated that the defendant’s advertisements amount to unfair competition which is misleading the public. He further stated that Macksons paints have also been tested and reports clearly show that they conform to international standards.
According to court documents, lead has traditionally been used as a raw material in the manufacture of paints and is mainly used as a drying agent and found in chrome pigments.
The use of lead is mainly found in enamel paints whereas water based paints such as emulsion paints generally do not contain lead unless some chrome pigments or specialty additives are included in certain colors. Research carried out in the industry has revealed that lead may be harmful to the human body, especially to children.