Beiersdorf sues Koni for 'passing off' Nivea packaging

The German cosmetics giant claims Koni Multinational is using a design too close to its 'iconic' Nivea packaging

Beiersdorf is suing a South African company for 'passing off', claiming that the design of its packaging is too similar to Nivea's and could mislead consumers.

The company in question, Koni Multinational Brands, was set up by actress and entrepreneur Connie Ferguson.

The brand creates a product called Connie Body Care Men Active Shower Gel, which is packaged in navy blue, silver, yellow and white.

Beiersdorf’s lawsuit, which was filed in the Pretoria High Court in December, claims this is too close to the packaging for Beiersdorf’s Nivea brand and has asked for a court order to clear retail shops of all Connie men's products.

“We are very confident that our intellectual property rights will continue to be protected,” a spokeswoman for Beiersdorf AG told Cosmetics Business.

“Beiersdorf has been using the traditional and distinctive Nivea blue and white get-up continuously and extensively since 1925, and the implicated Nivea Men design since 2011.

"Many consumers associate our product designs closely with the brand and its core values in South Africa.”

The lawsuit asks for a court order to “restrain the respondent from passing off its Connie Body Care Men Active Shower Gel as being that or as being associated with that of the applicant, by making use of a get-up in respect of the infringing shower gel which is likely to cause confusion or deception in the market as to the source of its goods or as to its connection or relationship with the applicant”.

Ferguson, in conjunction with business partner Groovin Nchabeleng, has replied with an affidavit claiming bullying by Beiersdorf and saying: “The respondent is bringing healthy competition to the men's shower gel market, and the applicant, being an international company, is trying to bully and intimidate the respondent by bringing this baseless application.”

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