By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Procter & Gamble Co's <PG.N> Gillette unit on Tuesday sued the maker of Schick razors, claiming it falsely marketed a line of private label three-blade razors and cartridges as being equal to or better than its popular Mach3.
Gillette said tests of men aged 18 to 55 showed that razors from Edgewell Personal Care Co <EPC.N> created a "statistically significant number of greater nicks and cuts," and thus were not "as good or better than Mach3," as their labels claim.
"By falsely promoting its razor as being 'as good or better' than Mach3 and providing reduced irritation as compared to Mach3, Edgewell's actions threaten harm to Gillette's reputation and that of Mach3, thus jeopardizing Gillette's hard-earned standing and market share," the complaint said.
The complaint filed in Manhattan federal court also said that the "many months" of lead time needed for Edgewell's June rollout of its shaving products meant that company had to infringe three patents for the Mach3 that expired on April 10.
Gillette dominates the retail market for men's razors and blades, where it can charge higher prices for premium brands such as Mach3 and Fusion. But it faces pressure from lower-cost rivals and online sales.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, a halt to alleged false advertising and royalties for products sold under such names as Blade, Daylogic and Equate, and by Kroger Co <KR.N>.
Edgewell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to the complaint, Edgewell told Gillette that its claims for the private label razors were based on a "well conducted product test" and had offered to substantiate the "as good or better" claim to retailers that asked.
Shaving products, including Schick, Wilkinson Sword and Edge, account for more than half of Edgewell's profit and revenue.
The company also sells Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen, as well as tampons and other feminine care products under such brands as Playtex and Stayfree.
Edgewell, based in Chesterfield, Missouri, was spun off in July 2015 by battery maker Energizer Holdings Inc <ENR.N>. Gillette is based in Boston, and P&G in Cincinnati.
The case is Gillette Co v Edgewell Personal Care Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-06623.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)