In the rising culture of Startups and Small businesses, one thing that cannot be avoided is a rising number of legal disputes. Even the Giant Startups are not free of legal disputes. Startups and Small Businesses that are aware of something like this happening under conscious minds, you are definitely taking the risk and it is the time you take a legal opinion from experts. The Startup Legal Disputes that stole highlights are:
- Zomato vs Burpp in 2011
Issue: Data Theft Zomato accused Burrp of copying data and contact details exclusively available for Zomato?s use and published under a special contract. Dispute resolved out of the court since in India, IPR protection for contact no. and address is available for Yellow Pages only.
- Bluegape in 2014
Issue: Copyright Infringement Bluegape a student-run startup selling customized products had to close its business down when it sold some copyright designs knowing them to be so on e-commerce websites as Flipkart, Snapdeal etc.
- Online Drug Selling Issue in 2015
Issue: Selling Drugs without due permits Prescription drugs which under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 Sec. 18 (C), read with Rule 65, can only be sold by a licensed retailer that too on the basis of a doctor’s prescription. such as Ascoril cough syrup and Vigora tablets were sold on Snapdeal. The notice was issued to it. Shopclues and Amazon were also found guilty of same. All three removed the products.
- Oh My Secrets in 2014
Issue: Abetting Gay sex Snapdeal along with Ohmysecrets! was taken into court for selling of Vibrators and other products. Such a hue arose that Flipkart and others removed the products from Sexual Wellness Category.
- QIKPOD in 2016
Leapmile Logistics Pvt Ltd vs Mr. Neeraj Ray Issues: Equity issues among founders Ravi Gururaj and Neeraj Ray Neeraj Ray sued Ravi Gururaj for not giving him promised equity shares for a product jointly developed called MERA LOCKER. Case in Evidence Stage in a court of Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, Bengaluru.
- HOUZZ vs HOUZIFY
Issues: Trademark Infringement Houzz a US based company with a similar business nature before launching its business in India filed trademark infringement against India based Startup Houzify claiming deceptive similarity between the trademark Houzz and Houzify/Housify. Facebook page of Housify was put down on request from Houzz Housify filed reply for trademark opposition. Agreed to change its fonts. Claimed Houz is a generic word.
- FLIPKART vs FLIPKART DISCOUNTS in 2016
Issue: Trademark Infringement E-commerce Giant Flipkart sued Flipkart Discounts, a site providing details of Discounts available on E-commerce sites and directing Customers to other sites, for trademark Infringement and Dubious Business Tactics.
- PAYPAL vs PAYTM in 2016
Issue: Trademark Infringement PayPal, a global giant opposed the trademark of Paytm on 18 November 2016, last date of four months period allowed, after trademark application was sent to be registered. Case to be argued in Court.
- ERICSON vs XIAOMI in 2016
Issue: Patent Infringement Ericson sued Xiaomi for patent infringement of 8 of its patents and was able to put the injunction on the sale of some of its phones. Delhi HC revoked the stay on sales and found that Qualcomm acquired the patents and Xiomi is paying to Qualcomm for patents. Not yet decided.
- Small Startups vs Big ones
Issue: Trademark Name Disputes Many major startups are complaining about smaller competitors copying their brand names.? Some suits regarding Trademark of name pending in court? are:
- Bookmyshow.com v Bookmyoffer.com
- Groffr v Grofers
- Shaadi.com v Secondshaadi.com
- Indian Trading League v Indian Advisory League
- Naukri.com v Naukrinews.com
- Naukri.com v naukrie.com
- UBER vs OLA in 2016
Issue: Faking data Uber alleged that Ola used fake customer accounts to book rides and then canceled it resulting cancellation expenses being borne by them. Case pending in court for unethical trading practices.
- INNERCHEF vs FreshMENU in 2016
Issue: Trademark Infringement Innerchef accused fresh menu of using their name in its Google ads without prior permission. Fresh menu apologized on twitter for same and put down the ad.
- STAYZILLA vs OYO
Issue: Illegal use of Brand Name Similar to the dispute between Innerchef and Freshmenu, OYO and Stayzilla entered into a dispute for illegal use of Stayzilla’s name in Google AdSense. Resolved after OYO apologized and agreed to look into the matter and put down the ad.
- UBER vs GOVERNMENT OF KARNATAKA in 2016
Issue: Licenses Section 93 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, states no one is allowed to engage himself as an agent or canvasser and solicit customers for public service vehicles like taxis. Hence no license was granted to operate Uber Bike in Bengaluru thus a legal battle.
- OYO vs Zostel in 2014
Issue: Software Theft Oyo Rooms produced evidence such as emails, CCTV footage, and theft of its ‘software’ by few of its own employees who apparently left to join Zostel. The High Court in its stay order dated April 21, 2015, barred Zostel which recently started budget hotel aggregation business ‘Zo Rooms’ from using ‘confidential information and software’ of Oyo Rooms. The dispute ended as Oyo bought Zostel in all Stock deal in the end of February 2017.
- OYO vs NOESIS in 2015
Issue: Dispute regarding non-payment of dues. Noesis filed a windingUp Petition against OYO for payment of Rs 1 Crore. Oyo states that terms of Contract not completed. Case pending in court.
Issue: Contracts The case that stole the highlight of the year and was in news for all the wrong reasons was regarding non-payment of dues which resulted in the arrest of the founder and leveling of criminal charges against him. The judge has suggested Mediation to solve the dispute.
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