Indian ecommerce can have one Flipkart only; etailer takes action for copyright infringement

http://www.rediff.com/business/report/flipkart-leases-office-space-from-embassy-in-largest-deal/20141018.htm

Ecommerce superstar Flipkart is doing everything in its power to take its business to the next level and become the best in online retail. Tie-ups with foreign entities, focus on top sellers, logistics and ads and even acquiring a mobile payment startup have propelled the etailer further and enabled expansions in different avenues.

The renowned marketplace seems to be on a roll and not even the loss of top officials, spoof emails, sub-standard sellers, fraudulent buyers or new ecommerce rules have frazzled its composure. However, upon identifying a copycat etailer, Flipkart seems to have had the last straw!

Copyright Infringement

The Singapore registered company has legal rights to the name ‘Flipkart’ and the creation of FlipkartDiscounts.net is a clear infringement of these rights. As a result, Flipkart has filed a case before the Delhi High Court against Seoni, Madhya Pradesh-based ecommerce company FlipkartDiscounts.net; on the grounds of copyright and trademark infringement.

Flipkart also claims that the accused has been using a logo similar to their own. The company’s spokesperson said, “We at Flipkart take stringent steps to safeguard our brand and trademarks.”

What is FlipkartDiscounts.net?

FlipkartDiscounts.net is an online site that provides several discounted listings and directs consumers to other ecommerce portals like Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm and Flipkart. The company has been accused of infringement due to the use of Flipkart in its name.

Court Judgment

A Flipkart spokesperson mentioned, “The court has granted an injunction against the website from operating under the current name and transfer the same to any third party.”

A high court bench mentioned  in its interim order on March 23, the grievance of Flipkart, the plaintiff, is that the defendant, FlipkartDiscounts, is using the domain name – www.flipkartdiscounts.net and this infringes the registered trademark “Flipkart”. Flipkart has been operating as www.flipkart.com since inception in 2007. The site is very popular in terms of online purchases for varied products.

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Flipkart’s lawyer, Pratibha M Singh, stated that the Delhi High Court has also restrained FlipkartDiscounts from providing links to other ecommerce sites, in an interim order.

According to the Delhi High Court interim order, “The defendants, on their website, are using the name and logo of the plaintiffs and selling the same products as offered by the plaintiffs, with discounts and at prices offered by the plaintiffs, by creating links to the plaintiffs’ website and displaying the same on their own website.” “The submission is that even this constitutes infringement of the plaintiffs’ trademarks and copyright.”

The defendant’s website shows the name, email id and social network details of Shubham Thakur. Email enquiries to him did not elicit a response till press time Friday, reported ETRetail.

The copycats are out of the bag?

This is not the first time the Flipkart name has been used by someone else. Other ecommerce establishments have tried to steal Flipkart’s popularity too. There are at least 15 other ecommerce sites that use the infamous “Kart” as a suffix. All for the simple purpose of making their own names standout. Some of these include:

  • LensKart
  • BagsKart
  • HealthKart
  • VeggieKart
  • Mygreenkart
  • Metal-kart
  • AssamKart
  • SafetyKart

Another homegrown ecommerce company whose success has triggered semi-imitators is Snapdeal. There are multiple sites that use the word deal in their names. For example: –

  • freedealsguru
  • entedeal

A more severe name cloning instance includes Shopclues’ copyright infringement in 2013. The ecommerce company realized that not only its logo but also its website content had been copied by a Dubai-based firm.

Is the ecommerce business tough to penetrate? Or are these imitators just looking for an easy way into online retail?

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