Name Checked: BigBasket’s Rap On Daily Basket Tantamount To Bullying?

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Whatever you do, don’t all put your ‘names’ in one ‘big’ basket? Get the hint?

In a rather unfortunate turn of events, Indian e-grocery giant BigBasket lashed out and sued a fledgeling Coimbatore-based startup dailybasket last week, for using the word ‘basket’ in its name.

In tearing into dailybasket over the similar nomenclature, BigBasket served the Ramesh Vel-founded startup a cease and desist letter. It asked the nascent e-grocery startup not only take down its mobile app with immediate effect but also stop all operations in addition to paying their legal team ₹2 lakh to cover the legal notice.

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As the words are out in the public domain, people are wondering what degree of threat a six-month-old startup can pose to a nine-year-old unicorn startup.

Interestingly, DailyBasket has decided to give a befitting reply to BisBasket in a very unique way. BigBasket has been called out by the bootstrapped start-up today, with the founder of dailybasket, Ramesh Vel launching a website bbisabully, to put out their voice in the public domain against the accusation of the trademark violation.

And in name-checking the start-up dailybasket, we are left with several questions. The most glaring of them:

  • Is BigBasket bullying a smaller competitor for the heck of it or is it really concerned about losing ground to emerging players?

The issues, clearly, from BigBasket’s side are plenty, having also accused the mere six-month-old of copying its app design and web interface.

From the initial look though, it all seems quite sanctimonious of BigBasket, considering the firm itself runs a separate vertical called BBDaily for online milk delivery. (Note the word Daily which is a part of DailyBasket)

The notice from BigBasket comes at a time when the value-steeped Tata Group is almost ready to take the reins of the grocery unicorn for a reported stake of 67%, worth $1.2 billion.

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In response to what is increasingly seen as a prime example of corporate bullying from most quarters, the Coimbatore-based company has rallied for a fightback to the treatment meted out to it. In a bid to address these very charges, dailybasket has created a website www.bbIsABully.com and has sought to inform the users about its side – propounding on how the platform use of ‘basket’ in its brand to delivers online groceries is by no means an attempt at aping the e-grocery bigwig’s trademarks.

That being said, it is a novel method to combat the might wielded sometimes arbitrarily by the big players.

Forth the same accusation, BigBasket, which itself is a start-up has also jumped forward with its own defence, willing to sit down and talk to finding an ‘amicable’ solution with the start-up dailybasket. Brushing back the ‘bully’ tag that it has been awarded, BigBasket’s clarification on filing the suit against a smaller rival is straightforward – only to protect its trademarks and brand value.

“The very purpose of the trademark registry is to put trademark applications in the public domain for 60 days, so that companies with existing trademarks may raise objections, if any. The typical next step in such cases is to send the relevant company a notice, which is exactly what we did. And even start-ups, however small, need to operate within the boundaries of the law. That said, we’ve been a start-up ourselves until quite recently; and the last thing we would want is to cause inconvenience to another start-up.” – T.N. Hari, HR Head of BigBasket

Even as the nine-year-old firm is willing to resolve the matter peacefully with the founders of dailybasket, there are plenty of examples in the Indian land to render these claims a bit arrogant.

Littered throughout the annals of a vast array of Indian industries, BigBasket can find numerous other companies with ‘basket’ in them. Soon to be Reliance Retail’s Milkbasket, Godrej’s Nature Basket spring immediately to mind. There is also the case of Fruit Basket which has been operating for some time. With their actions, might BigBasket want to launch similar proceedings against these well-backed up companies?

Surely none of them is served with a similar notice by BigBasket, so why does Daily Basket have to go through such turbulence?

The small firm has managed to garner significant favourable public sentiment in the matter, with people more aware of both the profiles of companies due the issue out in the spotlight.

It will be intriguing to see how this saga is handled by both parties. Perhaps Daily Basket can leverage the attention into launching their ambitions around the country, who knows. But being a billion-dollar company BigBasket has gone on to become, it whiffs of some arm-twisting for sure.

Which side do you fall on? Ponder and let us know. Stay tuned for more updates until then.

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