House­full Pushes Me­belkart to Court for Fakes

House­full In­ter­na­tional serves le­gal no­tice to Me­belkart seek­ing .₹ 150 crore in dam­ages

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech -

Shash­wati Shankar & Payal Gan­guly

Ben­galuru: Fur­ni­ture maker House­full In­ter­na­tional has de­manded .₹ 150 crore from AskMe Group­backed on­line mar­ket­place Me­belkart for al­legedly de­fault­ing on pay­ments and sell­ing im­i­ta­tions.

Mum­bai-based House­full said it stopped sell­ing its fur­ni­ture on Me­belkart in Fe­bru­ary af­ter the dig­i­tal mar­ket­place failed to clear dues of up to .₹ 28 lakh. But since then, Me­belkart has been il­le­gally sell­ing prod­ucts bear­ing House­full brand names, it said.

House­full filed a com­plaint with Mum­bai po­lice on April16 charg­ing Ben­galuru-based Me­belkart with sell­ing coun­ter­feit prod­ucts. It fol­lowed that up with a le­gal no­tice to Me­belkart seek­ing pay­ment of the dues and .₹ 150 crore in com­pen­sa­tion for dam­ag­ing its rep­u­ta­tion and brand good­will. “Af­ter ter­mi­nat­ing our part­ner­ship with (Me­belkart), later in March we started re­ceiv­ing neg­a­tive feed­back from mar­ket as­so­ci­ates about our prod­ucts be­ing fake and def­i­nitely not re­sem­bling the orig­i­nal qual­ity,” said Ak­shay Chaturvedi, co­founder of House­full In­ter­na­tional.

While Chaturvedi in­sisted that House­full had sus­pended its 21month part­ner­ship with Me­belkart, Rahul Agar­wal, CEO of Me­belkart, in­sisted that House­full “was delisted from the web­site due to non-com­pli­ance with our terms and con­di­tions”. Agar­wal con­firmed Me­belkart was served a le­gal no­tice from House­full on April 24. “We would like to clar­ify that ‘House­full’ is a generic term and sev­eral sellers use the ‘House­full’ word in their prod­uct de­scrip­tions,” he said. “There is no prod­uct un­der the ‘House­full’ brand name be­ing sold and no use of any trade­mark of the said brand.”

AskMe, a unit of Getit In­fo­me­dia, owns 75% of Me­belkart af­ter it in­vested $20 mil­lion (about .₹ 130 crore) in the com­pany in Au­gust. Me­belkart’s pro­mot­ers own the bal­ance

IN RE­SPONSE TO THE AC­CU­SA­TION

25% stake. AskMe is backed by Malaysia’s Astro Hold­ings. The dis­pute be­tween House­full and Me­belkart high­lights the need for strong le­gal safe­guards in the ab­sence of strin­gent and well-de­fined poli­cies to gov­ern In­dian ecom­merce.

In Septem­ber, Mum­bai-based sa­ree dis­trib­u­tor Shree Meena Cre­ations sued Ama­zon, Flip­kart and eBay for al­legedly sell­ing repli­cas of its de­signs. In Jan­uary last year, ShopClues was served a no­tice by Har­man In­ter­na­tional, mak­ers of the JBL brand of head­phones, for al­legedly list­ing coun­ter­feit prod­ucts. Ar­chana Khosla Bur­man, part­ner at le­gal ser­vices firm Ver­tices Part­ners, said con­tracts be­tween mer­chants and mar­ket­places should fac­tor in “an obli­ga­tion on the mar­ket­place to not be en­ti­tled to repli­cate any prod­uct of the seller on its plat­form at any point of time with­out the writ­ten con­sent of the seller”.

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