Online travel company, MakeMyTrip (MMT), has filed a case against five companies for using “deceptively similar sounding names”. In its complaint, MakeMyTrip reportedly alleged that the five companies — MakeMyYatra, MakeMyJourney, Make My Happy Journey, Pick My Trip and Superb My Trip — have used similar names and some have also copied its logo.
A MakeMyTrip spokesperson told Inc42, “We have initiated legal proceedings against some businesses. These proceedings are largely against infringement of trademarks, domain squatting and confusing the customer regarding the actual service provider. If left unchecked, they could negatively impact our hard earned goodwill, reputation and brand names.”
An ET report cited Delhi High Court interim order dated October 31 as stating, “Till further orders, the defendant, its partner, directors, shareholders or proprietors as the case may be, its assigns in business, franchisees, affiliates, subsidiaries, licensees and agents are restrained from using in manner whatsoever, selling, offering for sale, advertising directly or indirectly dealing in any products or services under the infringing marks, namely PickMyTrip (word per se).”
A similar order was also passed by the Delhi court against MakeMyYatra on December 5.
In its appeal, MakeMyTrip said it spent almost 46% of its revenue, or $178.57 Mn (INR 1,264 Cr), on advertising and marketing its brand in FY 2017-18.
Trademark Infringements: The Cost Of A Brand
Customers recognise and relate a product through the company’s logo, brand name, slogan, and more. Trademark registration enables a company to secure legal right to a particular brand name and logo, along with control over how and where these elements are used.
However the bigger a brand, the bigger are its chances of being imitated by other companies looking to benefit from the recall value of the bigger brand. Recently, New Delhi-based beverage company SardarBuksh had to agree to change its name to Sardar-Ji-Buksh, after being sued by US coffee giant Starbucks, which has been expanding its presence in India since 2012.
Indian startup ecosystem has witnessed several instances of trademark violations, however, it’s not always smaller entities being dragged to court, there have also been instances wherein major companies such as Flipkart have been forced to defend their products.
In October Delhi-based electric appliances maker Marc Enterprises filed a case against ecommerce company Flipkart’s private label MarQ. Prior to this, Metro Shoes, a multi-brand footwear chain in India, accused Flipkart of selling a private label by the brand name of Metronaut, which is deceptively similar to Metro’s eponymous brand. In June, Mumbai-based tea maker Girnar Food and Beverages Pvt Ltd filed a trademark violation case against grocery startup BigBasket for using the ‘Royal’ trademark to sell several products, including tea.