Ambanis now fighting over trademarks

Ambanis now fighting over trademarks
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First Published: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 11 04 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 11 04 PM IST
New Delhi: Days after the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-Adag) opposed Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) trademark application for “Reliance Finance”, the latter has hit back by opposing R-Adag’s application to trademark the similar-sounding “Reliance Financial”.
An R-Adag spokesperson said the group would fight RIL’s opposition.
An RIL spokesperson declined to comment.
The R-Adag spokesperson referred to a 2005 agreement between estranged brothers Mukesh Ambani—who controls RIL—and Anil Ambani, in which the two brothers apportioned the united Reliance group’s businesses between themselves and said financial services was “part of R-Adag”.
The trademark spat between the companies controlled by the brothers, who have been fighting a legal battle over natural gas, is interesting because it is the first time they are sparring over trademarks. Both groups have displayed restraint and ignored conflicting trademark applications from the “other Reliance” in the past.
Earlier this month, R-Adag had opposed Reliance Retail Ltd’s application to trademark Reliance Finance, a brand name under which it would sell financial services products.
RIL’s response to this is its opposition to R-Adag’s attempt to trademark Reliance Financial for financial services products.
Reliance Retail, too, has opposed this separately. Both oppositions were made on 15 February, according to the trademark office’s website.
It takes years for India’s Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks to process any trademark application before opening them for public scrutiny.
Both R-Adag and RIL had made their applications in 2007 and the trademark office put these applications in the public domain late last year. Objections have to be made within four months of the applications being placed in the public domain.
On earlier occasions, the rival Reliance groups have turned a blind eye to conflicting trademark submissions.
For instance, RIL has already registered Reliance Big in the retail and hospitality sector, though R-Adag uses the Big brand name for its entertainment and media businesses.
R-Adag, in turn, has registered Reliance Big Retail, though RIL operates a billion-dollar retail venture under the Reliance Retail brand.
rasul.b@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 11 04 PM IST