The story starts form Dec’21, when Grofers undertook a full-fledged rebranding filed for a trademark on the name ‘Blinkit’, its ambitious 10-minute delivery plan.
At the same time, Bengaluru-based web development startup Blinkhit Private Limited also applied for the trademark of the word ‘Blinkit’ in late December 2021. In its application, Blinkhit said it had been using the trademark for 7 months.
A similar application made by Blinkhit, in the same month, to the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks noted that it was using the ‘Blinkhit’ trademark since June 8, 2020. This set the stage for what would eventually become a major tussle which has a lot at stake for the Gurugram-based platform.
In its plea before the civil court, Blinkhit sought to restrain Blinkit from using the contentious trademark. The petition also called for barring Blinkit from using the ‘website hosted in relation to the defendants’ existing and future business trademark, to surrender the entire stock of unused offending hoardings, bills, carry bags, negatives, positives, transparencies, blogs for destruction and to render true account of the profit that defendant derived by promoting their business by using the offending trademark’.
Amidst all this, Zomato acquired Blinkit for $568 million in an all-stock deal, even as the listed foodtech giant came under heavy fire for a slew of reasons ranging from corporate governance issues to alleged over-valuation of Blinkit.
The proceedings have largely been mixed for both parties. The Bengaluru civil court twice ruled in favour of Blinkhit and issued injunctions against Blinkit. However, Blinkit approached the Karnataka High Court and secured stay orders on both the rulings.
Blinkit has a lot at stake in the legal tussle. Any adverse judgement could throw the crores of rupees it spent on branding down the drain. This is notwithstanding any future prospects where Blinkhit itself could venture into the quick-commerce category at Blinkit’s expense.
As per the Bengaluru civil court documents of the case, accessed by Inc42, Blinkhit contended that Blinkit was trying to benefit from its trademark. In the June 2022 petition, Blinkhit also claimed that the use of the trademark by Blinkit was not a matter of coincidence but ‘an extremely calculated and blatantly dishonest act acquainted with bad faith’.
The court ruled in favour of Blinkhit in June and granted a temporary injunction, restraining Blinkit from using the trademark till the completion of the trial in the matter. However, Blinkit knocked on the doors of the Karnataka HC in July 2022 and sought interim relief in the matter.
Blinkit argued before the HC that its usage of the trademark was honest and bonafide and its business had nothing to do with Blinkhit’s. The HC sided with Blinkit in the matter and stayed the proceedings.
In August, during the second round of proceedings before the civil court, the Albinder Dhindsa-led company said that Blinkhit was ‘virtually a defunct entity with nil/zero revenues’ between FY17 to FY21. However, the court once again issued an injunction in favour of Blinkhit saying that the registered ownership of the trademark had to prima facie prevail.
The court also said that, prima facie, Blinkhit was the prior user of the trademark as the quick-commerce player began operations as Blinkit five years after Blinkhit was incorporated by ‘just removing the alphabet H’.
The court said that Blinkit could not make an argument that its name was not ‘deceptively similar’ to Blinkhit. The Gurugram-based company once again approached the HC and obtained a stay.