After Palo Alto-based design and decor company Houzz sent a legal notice to Bangalore-based Houzify, claiming “deceptive similarity” between the trademark Houzz and Houzify/Housify, Facebook has deactivated the latter’s page on the social media site.
Gunaseelan Radhakrishnan, Houzify’s co-founder and CEO, refers to this move by Facebook as “execution without trial”. “While Facebook’s policy to ‘execute without trial’ is unfair and questionable, the larger issue here is as to why Houzz is subverting the legal process they have initiated and trying cheap tactics like taking our Facebook page down. Such behaviour harms the budding startup ecosystem in India,” he said.
Here’s what exactly transpired, starting from the legal notice sent by Houzz:
On December 15, 2015, Anand and Anand—the legal firm representing Houzz, Inc. in India—sent a legal notice to K-law (representing Houzify) claiming that the brand names Houzify and Housify impinged on the trademark protections which Houzz enjoyed. The notice called for the following:
- Cease all its use of impugned mark HOUZIFY in any medium whatsoever
- Cancel the domain houzify.com or transfer the same to Houzz
- Rebrand to a name and website that is not confusingly similar to the Houzz mark
- Withdraw the impugned marks and provide Anand and Anand with the copies of withdrawal letters as filed before the trademark office, along with the corresponding non-fee receipts
To this notice, K-law responded on December 30, 2015 and claimed that its client (Houzify) denies and disputes any exclusive rights claimed by the Silicon Valley-based company over its alleged trademark ‘HOUZZ’.
“At the outset, our client states that your client’s legal notice is extremely farfetched, baseless and without any legal or factual merit whatsoever and denies the contents of the same in their entirety,” the notice read.