'Ebel Paris' advertising campaign held to be misleading

The National Antitrust and Unfair Competition Agency (Procompetencia) has held that Grupo Transbel, a well-known cosmetics company, had engaged in unfair competition by running an advertising campaign that misled consumers into believing that there was a link between all goods bearing the mark EBEL and the city of Paris, thereby unfairly benefiting from the prestige of the French cosmetics and perfume industry (May 21 2008).  
One of Transbel's competitors filed an action before Procompetencia, arguing that Transbel's use of images of Paris (in its advertising material, on its websites and in magazines) was unlawful. In addition, the competitor claimed that:
  • Transbel had no presence in, or connection with, the French market; and
  • only some of Transbel's goods were produced in France. 
Procompetencia ruled that the 'Ebel Paris' campaign should be cancelled on the grounds that it constituted misleading and deceiving advertising. It held as follows: 
"The advertising campaign 'Ebel Paris' creates confusion among consumers by inducing them to believe that all goods sold by the company originate from the city of Paris. The advertisements fail to clarify that only the product being advertised originates from that city, and not all goods bearing the mark EBEL."
Transbel was ordered to pay a fine of approximately $2.7 million. Transbel has filed an administrative appeal, which is currently pending.
Mónica Granadillo, Estudio Antequera Parilli & Rodriguez, Caracas

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