Trademark and brand name copyright infringements are a perennial problem in most developing countries. Many multinational organizations have found and fought them in India in the past. Now a homegrown startup MakeMyTrip (MMT) has found many similar-sounding firms and has taken the legal recourse to rein these imposters in.
MakeMyYatra, MakeMyJourney, Make My Happy Journey, Pick My Trip and Superb My Trip are all firms operating in different parts of the country and online, offering the same set of services that MMT does, and some have even designed their logo to resemble that of MakeMyTripâ€™s. MMT has submitted in its petition in the Delhi High Court that it spends almost half of its revenue, a whopping Rs 1,264 crore on advertising alone and these advertisements are meant to propagate its brand name. These firms, by copying or using similar sounding names can easily mislead the customers and cause severe loss to its business. MMT has managed to secure an interim order from the Court.
The order issued by the Court states inter alia thus: "Till further orders, the defendant, its partner, directors, shareholders or proprietors as the case may be, its assigns in business, franchisees, affiliates, subsidiaries, licencees 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)".
This order was passed about a month and a half back. MakeMyTrip has clarified that it is safeguarding its legal rights and the irregularities brought to the attention of the Court include â€śinfringement of trademarks, domain squatting and confusing the customer regarding the actual service providerâ€ť.
On the question of damage that could be caused to MMT, it says, this could â€śnegatively impact our hard-earned goodwill, reputation and brand names".
Now, the case may drag on for months as it happens with the Indian legal system. If the Court does decide and issue a decree, it will be interesting to see what kind of punishment is given or penalties imposed. That could set a precedent for thousands of such cases of fake products and names used by fly-by-night operators, which damage the interests of the genuine ones.