The Delhi High Court will be deciding if the use of Google Adword identical to the competition's brand name could possibly violate intellectual property rights (IPR). Travel portal MakeMyTrip has made Google a party to the case it has filed against EaseMyTrip over the Adword 'makemytrip'. MakeMyTrip claims EaseMyTrip's use of the Adword is in violation of the trademark law and has raised the cost of its Google Search Network advertisements. The court will be hearing the case on May 8.
This is perhaps the first time that Google has been made a party to a legal suit by a major internet commerce company in India, according to a media report. MakeMyTrip claims the brand-name identical Adword that its rival uses makes it costlier for it to come on top for every search result on its own name. The Gurugram-based company listed on Nasdaq feels it is unfair when rivals bid for its name and divert traffic to their platform, the report on The Times of India says.
Previously, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had fined Google for 'search bias' and abuse of 'dominant position' following complaints from a matrimony website. "The competitive bidding on brand's wordmark raises the cost per click on Google platform by up to three-to-four times," the report quoted an unidentified industry executive as saying. MakeMyTrip has also taken up the matter with the government's Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade during stakeholder consultations on draft e-commerce policy earlier this month, according to the report.
The court documents say EaseMyTrip was sent a cease and desist notice in September by MakeMyTrip but it did not respond to the notice and has continued using the ad-word "makemytrip," according to the report. According to sources, MakeMyTrip India's turnover for last year was Rs 2,760 crore, while it spent Rs 3,300 crore for brand promotion. "It's fine for companies to bid for words like flight or travel but copying the full name of the brand is unfair and illegal. Since Google being part of the problem here, they have been made a party to it and if the court asks they have to appear in court to explain their stand," a source said.
EaseMyTrip, meanwhile, is planning to expand its hotel inventory to 1.5 million properties by June. The company said it currently hosts 300,000 hotels on its platform through different partners besides 12,000 directly contracted hotels, the report says. EaseMyTrip co-founders Nishant and Rikant Pitti told The Economic Times that Ease-MyTrip was planning to introduce IRCTC tickets on the platform by the end of the month, which could raise the bar for the competition. EaseMyTrip started operations in 2008 as a b2b business wherein it received deposits from offline travel agents to buy tickets in bulk from different carriers. Its rapid expansion and dextrous use of the digital marketing platform has begun posing problems for the competition.