Info-tech

Start-up accuses Amazon of using its brand name to drive traffic

PRIYANKA PANI Mumbai | Updated on January 16, 2018

Amazon had recently launched its global programme, Launchpad, in the Indian market to help start-ups launch, market and distribute their products across all markets where Launchpad is present   -  REUTERS

Chennai-based Flintobox files legal notice against the e-commerce giant

A three-year-old start-up has sent a legal notice to Amazon India for allegedly, unlawfully using the former’s brand name ṭo drive traffic to the latter’s website.

Flintobox, a Chennai-based kids activity boxes provider, in a letter to its users, said the company, along with several other small and innovative companies, are facing a challenge — infringement of intellectual property rights by bigger and well-known players.

“Amazon, one of the planet’s largest e-commerce companies, which also does business in India, has resorted to unethical practices which infringe Flintobox’s intellectual property rights,” said founder Arun Prasad Durairaj in a blogpost.

“So, we’re starting this social media fight to ensure that Indian rules and companies are not taken for a ride,” he added.

According to Flintobox, Google shows an sponsored ad, ‘Flintobox at Amazon’, when searching for the start-up on the search engine. Flintobox is accusing Amazon of “(using) Google to steal a prospective buyer of Flintobox”

An Amazon India spokesperson told BusinessLine: “We have not presently received any notice from Flintbox, and we will respond to any notice on its merits when received. Amazon follows all copyright and trademark policies.

“Thousands of first-time sellers, small businesses and entrepreneurs sell their products on Amazon. We are proud to be associated with this ecosystem who reach thousands of customers.”

Amazon had recently launched its global programme, Launchpad, in the Indian market to help start-ups launch, market and distribute their products across all markets where Launchpad is present.

‘Complex case’

Nishit Dhruva, Managing Partner, MDP & Partners, a law firm, is of the view that although the law protects entities against infringement even in the virtual world, in this particular instance — where Google AdSense software generates a trademarked brand as a keyword and accordingly directs traffic to Amazon.co.in as part of their Search Engine Optimisation process — the case gets more complex and the ruling authority will have to keep these factors in mind.

Further, it is also possible that the contract entered into between a merchant (Flintobox) and Amazon to sell the merchant’s products on Amazon.co.in will have a clause providing that the e-tailer is entitled to drive traffic to its website by having its link show up first as a result of a Google search for the merchant’s products.

Of late, there has been an increase in number of cases on intellectual property rights and trademark being filed in Indian courts.

Recently, global payment company PayPal filed a trademark-related case accusing Indian mobile payments company Paytm of using a “confusingly” similar colour combination and font for the latter’s logo.

Published on December 23, 2016

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