A trademark’s degree of registrability or its ability to sustain a suit or enforce a…
GrabOn– the Hyderabad-based affiliate e-commerce start up–has successfully won a trademark infringement suit filed against GrabOnRent – a Bengaluru-based product rental start up. The lawsuit was filed by GrabOn before the Delhi High Court, on the grounds of misusing the former’s goodwill and causing confusion amongst consumers due to deceptively similar brand names.
GrabOn claimed that its consumers are often confused between the names “GrabOn” and “GrabOnRent”, resulting in wrong allocation of customer reviews, feedback and queries. GrabOn clarified that it had to endure unfavorable customer reviews and complaints which had actually been intended for GrabOnRent.
In a settlement before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Center, GrabOnRent agreed that it shall withhold itself and its vendors, distributors, sellers, etc., to sell, advertise or deal in goods or services under the mark “GrabOnRent”, “GrabOn” or similar trademark and domain names within the agreed timeframe.
GrabOnRent also agreed to insert disclaimer on each and every page on their website and mobile app mentioning that they have no relation with GrabOn.
With Great Start-Ups Comes Great Responsibility
Recognizing the boom in start-up entities, the Central Government started the Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) scheme in 2016. In 2017, the Central Government decided to extend the scheme till 2020. Evidently, the surge in start-ups is showing no signs of slowing down.
Due to the overall increase in awareness as well as the legal strengthening of intellectual property rights in recent years, start-up entities are well aware of the fact that they need to set up a dedicated IPR team or plan an IPR strategy, at the very least. It is perhaps attributable to this growth in awareness that both small and large entities have been embroiled in court battles over trademark infringement in recent years.
For instance, in 2019, the Delhi High Court curbed local services giant Justdial from using PVR’s trademark on its platform, stating that it was a prima facie case of infringement and passing off. In May 2016, Justdial had entered into an agreement with film entertainment company PVR Cinemas to list its shows and other related information on its search pages. The agreement expired in August 2018 but Justdial continued to provide online ticket bookings.
In another trademark infringement case this year, the Delhi High Court fined online insurance aggregator Policy Bazaar, INR 10 lakh after it was found that it had concealed facts from the Court against Acko General Insurance. Policy Bazaar had accused Acko of infringing its trademarks and the Court had ordered Acko to stop using the name ‘Policy Bazaar’ in its keywords. Acko claimed that Policy Bazaar was doing the same thing by using its name in the keywords. 
In 2018, travel service provider MakeMyTrip dragged five companies to court for using “deceptively similar-sounding names”. In its complaint, MakeMyTrip reportedly claimed that five companies – MakeMyYatra, MakeMyJourney, Make My Happy Journey, Pick My Trip and Superb My Trip – were not only using similar names but some of them had also copied its logo.
In 2019, Tata-owned Titan filed a civil suit before the Delhi High Court against Snapdeal for not delisting counterfeit Titan and Fastrack watches. It had also filed a case against two sellers who were selling these counterfeit watches. Delhi High Court passed a decree in favour of Titan granting permanent injunction against the said two sellers.
No entity can afford to take the risk of overlooking the intellectual property aspect of their business. This rings true particularly in today’s world, where competition and technology are constantly reaching new heights. Safeguarding your intellectual property is the only way for a business to ensure sustainability and goodwill.
Author: Shubham Kshirsagar, BA. LL.B from Indian Law Society (ILS), Pune , Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at [email protected]