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Court case against Ola in Sri Lanka for alleged “commercial espionage”

Sri Lankan company Digital Mobility Solutions Lanka Ltd., which runs a taxi hailing app called PickMe, has instituted criminal action in the Magistrate Court of Colombo against Ola, according to Sri Lankan daily FT Online. PickMe is one of the organised taxi platforms in Sri Lanka, and claims to be a market leader with a taxi fleet of ten thousand vehicles, and apparently serving nearly a million passengers.

PickMe has alleged that ANI Technologies Lanka Ltd, a subsidiary of Ola’s parent company, and its directors have committed offences under the Intellectual Property Act by stealing valuable and confidential business and technical information developed by the company, through indulging in commercial espionage. The accused parties are ANI Technologies Lanka Ltd., Karan Veer Singh Shekhawat, who is Vice President – Operations at Ola, Nimish Joshi, Vice President and Head – Strategy & Corporate Development along with their Operations Manager Murali Barath.

In response to these allegations, Ola told MediaNama that, “The allegations are absolutely frivolous; however, we cannot offer any detailed comment as the matter is subjudice.”

When Medianama reached out to PickMe asking for details on the nature of its allegation, the company responded, “The matter of concern is sub-judice we are not at liberty to comment on it.” However, it added that the Magistrate, being satisfied by the facts supported before court, has issued summons on all the accused, returnable on February 26.

Ola expansion

A few days ago, Ola announced its entry in the Australian market, set to begin operations in in three cities: Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. It has also been reported that Ola may also expand to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh , which would explain the presence of their executives in Sri Lanka. Apart from PickMe, Uber also has presence in the Sri Lankan market.

Ola’s expansion is backed by recent inflow of investment, as it raised $1.1 billion in October led by Tencent Holdings Limited and existing investor SoftBank. SoftBank is also a common investor in its rival Uber which picked up 15% stake in the company for an investment of $1.25 billion along with other investors.

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