Judge Rules Gillette Razor Ads Unsubstantiated

Gillette Co. (G) ads claiming its M3Power (search) razor raises hair up and away from the skin are "unsubstantiated and inaccurate," a federal judge said in siding with Gillette's chief competitor, Schick-Wilkinson Sword (search).

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in Connecticut granted Schick a preliminary injunction prohibiting the use of the television and print ads. Gillette was also ordered to change packaging for the product and remove in-store displays that feature the false claims.

Wednesday's ruling said the depiction in Gillette advertising was "greatly exaggerated" and "literally false."

Gillette spokeswoman Michele Szynal said the company has not decided whether to appeal.

"Right now the ruling won't have any affect on our marketing since the visuals don't appear on any (current) advertising or point-of-sales material," she said.

The M3Power, a high-tech, vibrating men's razor introduced early last year to compete with Schick's Quattro razor (search), held a 20 percent global share last quarter and was the world's top-selling razor, Boston-based Gillette said.

Schick is a division of St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings Inc., and is the world's second-largest maker of wet shave products behind Gillette. Schick-Wilkinson Sword president Joe Lynch said Gillette's claims for the M3Power "go well beyond the capabilities of the products.

"We firmly believe that since the day the M3Power was launched a year ago, Gillette has deceived consumers about the performance of this product," Lynch said.

But Szynal said the computer-generated image of the razor lifting hair away from the skin was never meant to be taken literally.

The two razor makers have tangled in court before, including a long patent fight over whether Schick's four-bladed Quattro and Quattro for Women razors violate Gillette's patent for a multi-blade system. Gillette has claimed that any razor head with three or more blades would be covered by its patent.

In April, a federal appeals court told a lower court to reconsider its decision allowing Energizer to continue selling the Quattro razor while the patent dispute plays out.

Gillette shares fell 48 cents to $53.30 on the New York Stock Exchange, still near the top of the 52-week range of $37.77 to $54.33. Energizer shares on the NYSE fell 4 cents to $64.03, near the high end of the 52-week range of $37.10 to $64.15.