Saturday, June 03, 2006

Who is the real Infosys?

What's in a name? Nothing much for individuals like you and me. However it could mean loss of business if a company found the goodwill of its name being used by another business to further its interests under the shade of the brand name. Infosys, the Indian IT heavy weight has found this quite disconcerting for years now and has finally stepped into the battlefield with the intention of wiping clean, businesses it sees taking undue advantage of its brand name Infosys.

The market is awash with companies that have blatantly used the word 'Infosys' to gain market share without the much needed marketing hassle. Data Infosys, Jupiter Infosys, Pravarthan Infosys, Aftek Infosys, PBSInfosys are just a few to name. The argument that these companies put forth is simple. Infosys is a generic term coined by fusing the words 'Information' and 'System'. Thus it is nobody's copright and anybody is free to use it. Does this argument hold water? Surprisingly Yes. The current chapter of Indian IT laws does not have anything against such usage and does not protect the originator of the term, in this case, Infosys.

Infosys has forced its lawyers to burn midnight oil to convince the government the need to re-assess the laws and decide such cases on a individual merit. Over a dozen companies have `Infosys’ as part of their identity. Now the company has moved the courts to direct the company affairs ministry and ROCs (registrar of companies) concerned for a permanent injunction preventing the brand to be used in corporate names.

A similar case in the US about a decade back had made big news. An IT company used the name Microhard. Microsoft immediately moved the court, stating that, the goodwill gained by Microsoft would have a positive rub-off on this company that was playing on the words Microsoft to gain attention. Microsoft had the case ruled in its favor. A similar case was filed by McDonald's against an Indian sanitary ware company that was having a logo similar to the McDonald's Golden Arches logo. The case filed by McDonald's was dismissed by the court for two reasons. The accused company was not in the same business as McDonald's and had records to prove that it adopted the logo much earlier than McDonald's. These two cases prove how individualistic approach would help the law in providing reasonably good judgement in such cases.

However for now, Infosys has drawn first blood by initiating court action and simultaneously asking the Registrar of Companies to bring to its notice any company with the word 'Infosys' in its application for registration. With India stepping on to the global arena, cases like these necessitate the need for a comprehensive set of IT laws that would protect companies doing business in India.

1 comment:

Bit Hawk said...

Interesting read. I remember seeing this Microhard, or some other company called Macrosoft, in Bangalore quite sometime back!

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