New Delhi: The Tata group’s retail company, Trent Ltd, is fighting a legal battle in the Delhi high court with a city-based supermarket owner for the Star Bazaar brand, as both operate stores under the same name.
Kailash Colony, New Delhi-based lone supermarket operator Star Bazaar Pvt. Ltd has got a stay from the high court that restrains the Tata-owned firm from opening any Star Bazaar branded stores in the Capital.
“In view of the plaintiff already carrying on business in Delhi of retail in the name of Star Bazaar, commencement of business by defendants also, of retail in Delhi in the same name and style is likely to cause confusion,” the court said. The next hearing on the matter is on 24 March, according to the court’s website.
Trent operates four Star Bazaar stores in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Mumbai. The company plans to open about 50 Star Bazaar shops nationwide in the next five years.
It is unclear whether the company planned to open Star Bazaar in the National Capital Region in the near future but Naveen Malhotra, the owner of New Delhi supermarket, said he found on the Internet that Trent had plans to open stores in New Delhi as well as in the suburb of Gurgaon, which is why he filed the lawsuit.
New Delhi and its environs are some of India’s biggest retail markets with a burgeoning middle-class population that shops in branded stores.
The New Delhi Star Bazaar sells grocery, cosmetics, household items and toys, among other things. Malhotra says the firm has lined up properties in the New Delhi neighbourhoods of Basant Lok and Green Park and plans to open two more Star Bazaar shops in the next two months.
Malhotra also says he has a property on Linking Road in Mumbai and will open a store there as well under the same name, taking the battle straight into Tata’s turf where it operates two Star Bazaar stores.
New Delhi’s Star Bazaar has argued that it has been using the trademark since March 2003, while Tata said it has been using the name since December that year, according to the court documents.
Trent, through an external public relations firm, declined to respond to a detailed questionnaire sent through email, citing the litigation. Trent’s lawyer said on 5 December that the firm will file a written statement within two weeks. It is yet to do so.
In 2007, Trent filed various applications to trademark Star Bazaar under various categories such as meat and poultry, tea and coffee, leather and printing material.
The Bombay Stock Exchange-listed Trent started its retail operation in 1998 with a chain of department stores called Westside. Currently, the company operates more than 30 Westside outlets, besides four Star Bazaar stores. Star Bazaar started operations in 2004. Last year, Trent signed a deal with UK-based Tesco Plc. that allows Star Bazaar to use the British retailers’ expertise in retailing, marketing and technology, among other areas.