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Groupon’s India Biz: SoSasta Founders Out, Ankur Warikoo Is CEO; Groupon.in Injunction

Exclusive: Changes are afoot at Groupon’s India business: Ananya Bubna has resigned as the Managing Director of the company, and Ankur Warikoo has been appointed CEO, MediaNama has learned from reliable sources. In addition, Ananya and Udayan Bubna have been asked to resign from the companys board of directors. An email to Groupon sent almost two weeks ago to confirm the resignation of Ananya and Udayan Bubna is yet to elicit a response. Warikoo declined to comment, and asked us to contact PR.

Warikoo was previously a consultant with the company and, according to his LinkedIn profile, and an Entrepreneur in Residence at Rocket Internet GmbH. Prior to that, he was a co-founder at Accentium Web*, before leaving the venture in September 2010.

Gets Interim Injunction Against Groupon.in; Mediation

Groupon had entered the Indian market eight months ago by acquiring SoSasta, and retained Ananya and Udayan Bubna, founders of the company, at the helm of the Indian affairs. But in light of the challenges that the company is facing in India, there appears to be a push for change: as a fledgling business, it faces stiff competition from market leader SnapDeal, which has recently raised $40 million, but more importantly, it faces a branding challenge from Bangalore based ValueNet Ecommerce, which started a daily deals site Groupon.in, and more interestingly, trademarked the brand name Groupon, in India.

We checked Groupon.in, and it appears that the site is not working. It appears that Groupon got an ex parte ad interim injunction from the Delhi High Court, which restrains the usage of the trademark GROUPON or a variation of it. The order (read it here) states:

It is accordingly directed that the defendants, their partners, sister concerns, group companies, servants, agents, representatives etc. shall stand restrained from using the mark ?GROUPON? and/or any deceptive variation thereof upon or in relation to their business, products, services and/or as part of their trade mark/trade name, website, web address, internet domain name, e-mail address and from in any manner, passing off or attempting to pass off or causing, enabling or assisting others to pass off their business, products and services as and for the business, products and services of the plaintiff. The plaintiff shall comply with the provisions of proviso to Order 39 Rule 3 within two weeks.

Subsequently (read this), the defendent (Mohan Rao) initiated litigation against Groupon Inc in the district court in Bangalore, following which the Delhi High Court initiated mediation at the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre on 15th July, 2011, and asked the parties to “List before the court on 25th August, 2011 for reporting outcome of mediation/hearing of arguments.”

P.s.: If any lawyer is reading this – be great if you could help us get into court for this hearing on the 25th of August.

Disclosure: Accentium Web was co-founded by my cousin Vivek Pahwa

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