The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, granted an interim injunction in favour of online travel portal MakeMyTrip (MMT), in its trademark infringement suit against smaller rival HappyEasyGo (HEG).
The court also directed search engine giant Google to suspend HEG’s advertising account on Google Ads, where companies bid for certain keywords, to boost their visibility in search results.
Google Ads is a key revenue source for the search engine giant, where companies bid to appear at the top of search results for certain keywords. In 2018, MMT had filed the case against HEG, accusing the latter of bidding for MMT-related keywords to appear at the top of search results. When its rivals would bid for MMT-related keywords, the Nasdaq-listed travel giant would have to spend more to win the bid for its own trademark to come on top of the search result.
Back in 2018, the court had granted an ex-parte interim injunction in favour of MMT, also directed HEG not to bid on MMT-related keywords, until further orders on the Google Ads service. However, in December last year, as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and travel bookings started picking up, MMT found HappyEasyGo violating the court’s orders.
The Delhi HC has also issued a bailable warrant against the two directors of HEG, Rajesh Kumar Dathik and Neelam Rani, as they failed to appear for the court’s virtual hearing on February 26.
MMT has a similar case against EaseMyTrip pending in court. In the past, several companies have flagged the misuse of Google Ads’ bidding feature. Companies bid for the keywords of their rivals, so the latter would have to spend more to win the bid for their own trademark and ensure search visibility.
Previously, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), India’s antitrust watchdog, had imposed a fine on Google for ‘search bias’ and abuse of dominant position following complaints from Matrimony.
Since last year, several Indian startups have also railed against Google for the commissions it charges the app-makers on its Play Store.
In January, some Indian startup founders and chief executives, namely Ajay Data of Data XGen Technologies, Murugavel Janakiraman of Bharat Matrimony, Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Ritesh Mallik of Innov8, Sairee Chahal of SHEROES and Anand Lunia of India Quotient came together to form the Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF). Data told Inc42 that ADIF has been envisaged as a body that could amplify the voice of the Indian startup ecosystem, against the predatory policies of big tech companies such as Google in India.