The battle between MakeMyTrip and EaseMyTrip, both Indian startups in the travel space, has now reached the courts and search engine giant Google has also been made party to this suit filed by MMT, reports Economic Times. In a case filed in the Delhi High Court, MakeMyTrip has accused EaseMyTrip of buying ad word from Google for a keyword ‘makemytrip’ on its search engine. This would mean any customer searching for MakeMyTrip may end up being shown results with EaseMyTrip pages on top. This, MMT says in its petition, is violation of its trademark rights.
Since Google has gone along with this violation, the search engine has also been made party to it. This might be one of the first times the company is facing such a legal case in India.
MMT’s claim is that in order to beat EaseMyTrip and still remain on top of the search results, it is forced to spend more. This, the company says, is unfair and has now asked the court to intervene. The essence of its legal argument before the court is that you can use any related term to push more customers to its website. For instance, ‘travel’ or ‘bookings’ or ‘tickets’ etc. But to use the name and brand of another rival company in the same business amounts to cheating and Google is a party to it.
Google has had to pay a fine earlier in India, imposed by the Competition Commission of India for what is called ‘search bias’. That time the complainant was Matrimony.com. Now for the affected entity, in this case, MMT, to regain its ranking on the Google search engine results, it has to spend multiple times the amount. This is the main issue in this case.
The Court has set May 8 as the next date for the hearing and at that time both EaseMyTrip and Google will have to file their responses to the notices they have been served by the Court.
It is reported that MakeMyTrip tried taking the assistance of the Government of India and held a meeting with the officials of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. A ‘cease and desist’ notice sent by MMT in September was also not acted upon by EaseMyTrip
It is said that against a revenue figure of Rs 2,759 crore, MakeMyTrip is spending an amount of Rs 3,320 crore for promoting its brand alone.