Now, Sanjay Kirloskar accuses brother’s firm of copying trademark

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on July 27, 2021

Says Kirloskar Industries trying to scuttle the 130-year-old legacy of flagship brand

The spat among the Pune-based Kirloskar brothers has intensified with Kirloskar Brothers (KBL), led by Sanjay Kirloskar, accusing Kirloskar Industries (KIL), led by his brother Atul Kirloskar, of using the intellectual property (IP), trademark, copyright and material part of KBL’s logo.

In a letter to the stock exchanges and SEBI, KBL says that KIL was trying to scuttle its 130-year-old legacy by misrepresentation of logo and trademark.

130-year-old legacy

As per KBL’s complaint, KIL, along with its associate companies, Kirloskar Oil Engine (KOEL), Kirloskar Pneumatic Company (KPCL) and Kirloskar Ferrous Industries (KFIL), are using the material, which is part of KBL trademark by claiming that they were 130 years old, but KIL was formed in 1978 and the rest of the companies are less than 15 years old.

Instead, KBL, the letter says, was established in 1888 and has a 130-year-old legacy. All this when KIL, KOEL, KPCL and KFIL were under different management than that of KBL, the letter says.

“So far, KBL was the original pump manufacturing company of Kirloskar group. But now other companies are getting into the pump business using the 130-year-old Kirloskar logo, trademark, and related material,” a source told BusinessLine.

KBL’s complaint says that a press release by KOEL claimed to be an “integral part of India’s industrial revolution”, and this was a misrepresentation of facts and leads to conveying misleading information. It says KBL, controlled by Sanjay, was founded by Ramanrao Kirloskar in 1888, and since has been the flagship company of the $2.1-billion Kirloskar Group.

“The company with a 130-year-old legacy and a pioneer in India’s industrial revolution is KBL. It was the first Indian company to manufacture ploughs, centrifugal pumps, machine tools, diesel engines, electric motors, air compressors, and other engineering products in India. KBL has mentioned this on its website and about the rich legacy of over 130 years. This language has been incorporated by KOEL, from KBL’s website, unauthorisedly,” said the complaint. Similarly, KBL has pointed out instances where KIL, KPCL and other companies related to Atul Kirloskar using the trademark and copyright material of KBL in their various announcements. There was a Deed of Family Settlement (DFS) signed between the entities led by Sanjay, Atul and third brother, Rahul Kirloskar.

Meanwhile, countering Sanjay’s complaint, a KIL spokesman said: “The complaint contains mis-statements with mischievous intent as each of the referenced companies are a part of the Kirloskar Group founded by Laxmanrao Kashinath Kirloskar, the great grandfather of Atul Kirloskar, Sanjay Kirloskar and Rahul Kirloskar, who, in turn, are the promoters of the referenced companies as well as of Kirloskar Brothers Limited itself.”

SC ruling

As per KBL, a company called Kirloskar Proprietary (KPL) was formed as per the Deed of Family Settlement in September 2009 when the Kirloskar family split. This KPL is the repository of logos and trademarks, which KIL and its related entities cannot use as they don’t own a stake in KPL.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, heard the dispute over DFS and ordered status quo in the civil suit and Bombay High Court order directing arbitration, and urged the brothers to consider dispute resolution through mediation.

Published on July 27, 2021

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