Shrikant Kunden, a Pune-based entrepreneur and founder of LastMile Digital Solutions Pvt. Ltd, has filed a criminal complaint against India’s largest network of angel investors and a Hyderabad-based startup for breach of trust and misuse of confidential information.
Kunden has alleged that the New Delhi-based Indian Angel Network (IAN) passed on his intellectual property, including trade secrets, to location management startup Zippr Pvt Ltd. He has also named Gagan Aggarwal, who was IAN incubator manager, in the complaint filed with the Pune police.
The IAN, which invested Rs 6 crore in Zippr in October 2014, as well as the Hyderabad-based company have denied the allegations.
Kunden told VCCircle that he had filed for a patent for the ‘Digital Location System’ technology with the Patents Office in October 2010. The technology received fourth prize in a national-level competition organised by the government and the Confederation of Indian Industry in 2012, he said.
After the competition, IAN representatives including Aggarwal met with Kunden and expressed interest in funding his project. Kunden said he then shared technical and commercial documents related to the technology with the IAN. Kunden said Aggarwal stopped responding to his phone calls and emails after January 2013.
Zippr was set up four months later, and Kunden alleged the company developed solutions based on his intellectual property. Zippr, founded by Aditya Vuchi, enables users to create short codes and share them with friends and businesses.
Aggarwal was with the IAN till August 2013 and is now head of training and skills at ReserWater Innovation Foundation. He couldn’t be contacted for a comment.
Kunden said the reason it took him three years to file a complaint against the IAN is because he found out about Zippr only in May 2015 through a friend. He then wrote to the IAN seeking clarification. The angel network responded a couple of months later, saying that it had rejected his funding application as the idea didn’t entice them. “I am fine with the fact they rejected my funding proposal. But how can they invest in Zippr, which had the same proposal, just six months later?”
Kunden said Zippr offers its services to companies including Domino’s India, Thyrocare, CommonFloor.com and Carzcare as well as Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and Karnataka’s 108 emergency service, allegedly using the same technology and trade secrets. He said he expects his patent to be granted in six to nine months, after which he will file a patent infringement case against Zippr.
Zippr founder Vuchi and a spokesperson for IAN dismissed the allegations as factually incorrect and baseless. Vuchi said that Zippr built its proprietary location encoding technology independently and that it has never spoken to Kunden’s company or its representatives. He also said that Zippr had received a clarification request from Kunden in June 2015 and that his legal team found the complaint was without merit and responded with a notice in September. “We intend to pursue the matter seriously and take necessary legal action,” Vuchi said.