A homegrown Bengaluru-based company called Happy Belly Bakes emerged victorious last month after a four-year legal battle against e-commerce giant Amazon in a trademark infringement lawsuit.
The company, which started in 2008 and owned the Happy Belly trademark since 2016, had filed a lawsuit against Amazon for using an identical brand name under which it sold bakery products, snacks and dairy products.
A city civil court ruled in favor of the Bengaluru-based company on Aug. 30.
Shisham Hinduja founded Happy Belly Bakes, a women-run company with about 30 employees that offers cookies, cakes and other baked goods.
She initially used the name ‘Regalar’, but in 2010 adopted ‘Happy Belly’, a trademark it has had on the name since 2016.
“We have a registered trademark and have been using this (name) since 2010,” said Ms. Hinduja.
In 2017, during the holiday season, the bakery received phone calls asking people if they had made their products available on Amazon.
Although Happy Belly Bakes did not list its items on the e-commerce site, it was later learned that one of Amazon’s house brands had the exact same name: Happy Belly.
According to Amazon’s website, Happy Belly is the company’s brand that “offers high-quality food and drink favorites, all at friendly prices.”
A Wall Street Journal report on June 29, 2016 showed that Amazon had embarked on its first major quest for perishable private label products, giving the online retailer an opportunity to test new goods with normally better profit margins, and compete with Starbucks Corp. on the other side of the street . Amazon has also rolled out bottled Mama Bear baby food in two flavors.
After discovering the deceptively identical name, Ms. Hinduja filed a lawsuit against Amazon Seller Services, Cloudtail India and Tootsie LLC. Tootsie filed the trademark application on behalf of the e-commerce giant, the report said.
During the hearing on the infringement case, Amazon argued that its Happy Belly brand was different from Ms Hinduja’s.
In addition, Cloudtail and Tootsie claimed that although Happy Belly Bakes only operated in Bengaluru, they had used the trademark for their products worldwide.
Finally, on August 30 this year, a civil court ruled in favor of Happy Belly Bakes, finding that Amazon had infringed the trademark of the Bengaluru-based bakery.
According to the order, Amazon claimed that Happy Belly Bakes lacked goodwill and reputation. However, the court rejected the claim, stating that the bakery has been operating since 2008 and that the defendant’s “statement reflected their arrogance”.
“As such, the use of the trademark HAPPY BELLY is certainly infringement of the plaintiff’s trademark,” the court ruled.
Further, Cloudtail and Tootsie were permanently barred from using the trademark in the country, with the court also calling their brand or logo deceptively similar.
“The Defendant… or anyone making a claim hereunder is hereby permanently barred from infringing or passing on Plaintiff’s trademark “HAPPY BELLY BAKES” under the brand/name/label “HAPPY BELLY” or with the similar name, stand up that are both visually and phonetically, deceptively similar to their business of manufacturing, sales, marketing, distribution and in any way trading products, goods or services,” the statement read.
Amazon was also ordered to remove the items from its marketplace in India.
“The legal process and the law have triumphed. Trademark law has triumphed,” Ms Hinduja said, referring to the verdict.
Amazon did not respond to an email request for comment on the court order.