Though India’s foreign investment agency approved IKEA’s entry into India, new ‘trademarked’ obstacles await IKEA. As business standard reports, IKEA is now facing trademark related challenges. It was reported that three registered Indian companies are currently using IKEA’s brand name. The three companies mentioned in the report are – 1. IKEA Home Décor Private Limited (which, as the report states, has a registered trademark), 2. IKEA Constructions Private Limited and 3. IKEA Furniture Private Limited. Of the three, as reported, the Registrar of Companies claims the last two to be dormant. Also, a trademark search revealed that Application No. 1131647, Proprietor: IKEA Furniture Private Limited has been abandoned. However, with regard to the first company i.e. IKEA Home Décor Private Limited, the owner made a statement to the business standard, stating (here)– “We have no relationship and connection with the Swedish firm. We will definitely oppose their retail chains under the IKEA brand”.
Inter IKEA Systems B.V. which is the owner and franchisor of the IKEA Concept, has several registered trademarks in India (for eg. - Application Nos. – 1523574, 1523584, 343317 etc.).Though IKEA has not yet approached the courts for trademark infringement, it may have a justified case as it is evident that the Indian companies are free-riding on its goodwill in order to sell their products.
The report cited another recent and similar case of an Indian company infringing a foreign company’s (that was planning to enter the Indian market) trademark where the Delhi High court (see order) passed an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the Indian company from using the same brand name. This was the case of a Bangalore based company – ValueNet Ecommerce which infringed US based Groupon’s trademark by operating a daily deals site called Groupon.in. The Indian firm has a registered trademark for Groupon (Application No. 1868095) and the US firm has a pending application with regard to this wordmark (Application No. 1942245, Application Date – 26/03/2010). Litigation is under way with the matter still pending with the Delhi High court for final disposal.
Wal Mart’s trademark case was another similar case in this regard. In this case, the Delhi High Court restrained an Indian firm named ‘Wal-Mart Stores Pvt Ltd’ from using Wal Mart’s brand name. This case was covered on spicyip (for more read here). Though the injunction in this case was based on trans-boundary reputation, it shows that trademark infringement by Indian companies of foreign brands is becoming a regular affair!