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Gillette Loses Norelco Legal War

October 6, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ A federal judge Wednesday ruled against shaving giant Gillette Co., which had sued rival Norelco over commercials depicting traditional wet razors as ferocious animated creatures.

Gillette took issue with the ads _ which had titles such as ``Twin Blade Serpent″ _ for Norelco’s electric Reflex Action Razor and filed suit in 1996 claiming the spots were false and disparaging.

Though they never mentioned Gillette by name, Gillette alleged the commercials maligned the entire category of wet, or non-electric, razors. The ads stopped airing two years ago.

``(Gillette) has not established how consumers interpreted the commercials and therefore the court is unable to determine whether the commercials as understood by consumers are false or misleading,″ U.S. District Judge Reginald Lindsay wrote in his 43-page ruling.

``We’re pleased for obvious reasons,″ said Rich Sorota, senior vice president of marketing for Norelco Consumer Products. ``We’re pleased (the judge) found we were absolutely truthful. ... Our product did produce less irritation than blades (with regard to) nicks and cuts.″

Officials at Boston-based Gillette said they are considering an appeal.

``We continue to believe Norelco used exaggerated visuals and claims that were unfair and untruthful,″ said spokesman Eric Kraus.

Gillette had sought a permanent injunction against Norelco that would have barred the company from ever producing ads that cast aspersions on wet shaving. To be granted such relief, plaintiffs generally must prove they’ve suffered irreparable harm, loss or damage.

Norelco, based in Stamford, Conn., is a division of Philips Electronics N.V. of the Netherlands. Gillette controls 70 percent of the men’s shaving products market and 50 percent of the women’s market.

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