In a filing with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), recently listed online travel agent (OTA) MakeMyTrip (MMYT) had denied any knowledge of a case apparently having been filed against it for trademark violation. In the filing MMYT has said:
“MakeMyTrip Limited (the “Company”) has recently been informed that one of its competitors may have filed a complaint in India against the Company likely alleging the misuse of domain names similar to the name of such competitor’swebsite. However, the Company has not received any notice of claim or summons either from any Indian court or any Indian investigating agency or such competitor. The Company believes that any such complaint is without merit or basis.”
The underlying assertion here is that MMYT did not make adequate disclosures to its investors about this case in its IPO prospectus, which, as you can read, the company has denied. It will be interesting to see how the SEC reacts if Cox & Kings is able to prove that MMYT was aware of the litigation (and had been served a notice) prior to MMYTs IPO filing.
The day that MMYT listed on NASDAQ, Business Standard reported of a case having been filed by Indian travel agent Cox & Kings which owns the domain Ezeego1.com with the additional chief metropolitan magistrate, 37th Court, at Esplanade, Mumbai, seeking compensation of $15-20 million, alleging trademark violation because MakeMyTrip apparently registered domain names similar to Ezeego1, in order to divert traffic away from the Cox & Kings invested portal. Cox & Kings has registered portals like Ezeego.com, Ezeego1.com, Ezeego.net, among others. We’re not sure of which portals it has alleged are trademark violations.
It is common practice for affiliates to register sites similar to an OTA’s name, in order to generate leads for them – for example, for travel portal XYZ.com, an affiliate would register a domain XYZoffers.com or XYZdeals.com. Of course, MMYT is hardly expected to be an affiliate for Ezeego1.
One litigation that is pending for MMYT is that against Tata Sons: Tata Sons had, in what in our opinion was a bizarre WIPO ruling, won the domain OkTataByeBye.com (a colloquial phrase used in India). MMYT took Tata Sons to court on that issue, and case is pending in the Delhi High Court and both parties have agreed to abide by the courts ruling.
Travel portals have been at each others throats for a while now: Travelocity had, late last year, filed a case against Cleartrip.com.