E-commerce major Flipkart’s attempt to build a brand for large appliances with its newly created private label MarQ has faced a setback after a Delhi court restrained the company from using the brand name until February 5.
The interim ruling was issued on a complaint filed by appliances manufacturer Marc Enterprises, which alleged that Flipkart's usage of MarQ as a brand name was in violation of its trademark registered in 1984 as the name had striking similarities to its own name, The Economic Times reported.
"It seems that prima facie there is phonetic similarity between the trademark Marc of the plaintiff and trademark MarQ of the defendant," the publication quoted Chandra Shekhar, additional district judge at Patiala House Courts in New Delhi, as saying.
The judge ruled that the "balance of convenience and irreparable loss" are in favour of the plaintiff and against Flipkart. As a result, the court disallowed Flipkart from using the MarQ brand for its products in any form and from any platform until the next hearing scheduled on February 5.
Quoting a person familiar with the matter, the publication reported that Flipkart’s lawyers told the court that the company had already sold about Rs 9 crore worth of products including TVs, ACs, washing machines and microwave ovens since its launch. They argued that the company could suffer heavy losses as it has already lined up products worth crores of rupees under the brand.
A Flipkart spokesperson said the company does not wish to comment on the merits of the case as the matter is in court. "However, all trademarks, including MarQ, adopted by Flipkart are distinctive and do not impinge on the rights of any third party. Flipkart India will be taking all steps under law to protect its rights."
Marc Enterprises sells a slew of consumer products such as fans, geysers, and coolers.
Flipkart, in an attempt to take its private label strategy beyond electronics, fashion and furniture, launched its first in-house brand for large appliances, MarQ, in August last year. In January this year, the company launched an exclusive line of air conditioners and smart televisions under MarQ at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas. The ACs were scheduled to go on sale on Flipkart from the beginning of April while the Smart TV was scheduled for May.
The e-tailer had said at the time of the launch that MarQ products would undercut top brands with similar specifications by 15-20%. Jeeves Consumer Services, its after-sales service arm, will offer maintenance, repairs and warranty on MarQ products.
*This article has been updated to add a comment from Flipkart.