Brand names and trademarks have always been a sensitive area for the corporations. Given the amount of money and extensive efforts are put in marketing and advertising for the brand creation and recall. It is perfectly logical for the companies/corporations to be sensitive about the use and misuse of their brand names and trademark.
There have been multiple instances where corporations have engaged in a legal battle for the rightful use of the trade names and brands. Some instances have been justified, where the brand infringement actually harms the brand owning organization.
For example a case where the brand name was thoroughly being misused is when -
Wipro Safelite brand for CFL was being used by a Delhi based manufacturer of Bulbs.Â The company went to the court for the appropriate action. The action of Wipro was suitably justified because the Brand infringement was happening in a related product area and could have actually misled the consumers or affected their perception of the brand.
However, the concern about the Brand infringement has grown multi-folds over last few years. Corporations are actually acting paranoid and going out of the way into legal battles for brand infringement. I speak of the the two recent cases which I feel are more of a case of paranoia amidst the corporations for their brands than anything else.
Porsche Vs Crocs
Recently Porsche has filed charges of Brand Infringement against the Croc.Â The charges are on the basis that Croc has introduced a new series of shoes called Cayman which are primarily rubber shoes priced at $30. The Porsche’s claim in the suit is that this infringes the brand of twin seat sports car priced above $50,000.
Makemytrip.com Vs Tata
The Tata’s have already won the case against MakemyTrip.com as their plea that Tata in OkTataByeBye.com infringes their trade name Tata and is confusing and misleading to the consumers.
Now I have serious doubt about both of these claims - as why they needed to be made?
Does Porsche really believe that the rubber shoe from Crocs and its sports car is misuse of trademark infringement?
I don’t think the modern consumer is dumb not to identify the difference or disconnect between these two lines of product, does the company really think that the consumer perception might be aligned that since the Croc Cayman shoes were not so comfortable, the Porsche Cayman would not be a good product or a consumer driving his super fast sports car Porsche Cayman would let him believe, since the car is so fast so he would be able to run like Usain Bolt.
Similarly, for the Tata’s the phrase “Ok Tata Bye Bye” is such a common place in India, you could find something on the same lines written on every second truck, rickshaw, tempo, tractor which are far more related to the Tata’s line of Business than the travel related site Makemytrip.com.
But somehow this was a paranoia that their brand might be exploited that made the turn of events becoming ugly and heading towards the legal route. I feel both the brands are as distinct as Tata Indica car with the CavinKare’s Indica Hair Oil.
As a matter of fact “OkTataByeBye” was an innovative name and a catchy one for a website and had nothing to do with Tata Sons. No matter how much Tata’s would like to fancy themselves, in Hindi speaking India Tata still stands for Goodbyes instead of the surname of the corporate czars of the country.
I agree that the Brands are one of the greatest assets of any corporations but the way the paranoia is hitting the companies and industries, this seems to be a tough road ahead for the entire corporate world and the poor consumer would be assumed to foolish, dumb and incapable of making distinction between the entirely different line of products.
I am so grateful of companies like Amul who believe in their product, brands and consumers that they are not worried about that the customer might go out and buy an Amul Underwear when actually he wanted to buy Amul Butter.
[This guest post is written by Prateek Gupta - A Business Process Consultant in Supply Chain Management. You can read more about him here. ]