Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is going after anyone using the name of its telecom venture Jio.
With 45 classes of trademark on the word “Jio", the Mumbai-based conglomerate has over the past few months approached the corporate affairs ministry to stop at least three companies that have “Jio" in either their names, brands or ventures.
RIL’s telecom unit Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd has filed cases before the regional director (western region) of the corporate affairs ministry, as the three companies are registered with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Pune.
The three companies have now been directed by the Registrar of Companies to change their names within six months, failing which prosecution proceedings will be initiated against the companies and their directors. All three companies were incorporated over the past two-three years, while Reliance Jio was incorporated in 2007.
Mint has seen copies of the orders.
The first among the entities is Jiokind Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, based in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, and involved in miscellaneous business activities. The other two companies, also based in Maharashtra, are Jio Rich Pvt. Ltd and Doctor Jio Healthcare Pvt. Ltd.
While Jio Rich has a registered office in Sangli and is a wholesaler of various goods, Pune-registered Doctor Jio Healthcare is involved in computer-related activities such as maintenance of websites of other firms and creating multimedia presentations.
Reliance Jio did not respond to an email until press time. The three companies also did not respond to emailed queries.
In its application, Reliance Jio has argued that the brand Jio has been under continuous and extensive use and has acquired a particular distinctiveness, which has brought goodwill and reputation to the brand.
“Jio has become a household name. Pursuant to this goodwill and reputation of Jio in the public mind, any goods, products, commodities, services or any other thing whatsoever made or traded under the brand Jio can be and are considered to have an apparent association, link to the applicants," Reliance Jio said in its petition to the RoC, adding that, along with telecommunications, it has services such as JioChat, JioTV, JioCinema, JioMoney, JioMusic and JioMags.
Reliance Jio also said in its petition that parent RIL has 13 subsidiaries, which were incorporated with a corporate name consisting of the brand Jio and it is the owner licensee of the trademark Jio in almost every class with the word Jio and/or combination of some other word such as Jio2Datagiri, JioFriends, JioExchange, JioWallet, Jio Electronics, JioDigD, JioComms, JioCash, JioTV, Jio Tablet and JioSwasth.
“The detailed list of 45 classes of the trademark for word Jio or combination of some other word Jio, which the applicants possess, has been annexed with the application," Reliance Jio said while presenting its arguments in the case.
It is estimated that Ambani has spent as much as $50 billion to propel his telecom business to India’s top position within three years of starting operations, surpassing incumbents Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd.
India’s youngest and only profitable telecom operator, Reliance Jio had a 31.7% share of the adjusted gross revenue that the domestic telecom industry recorded in the June quarter.
Airtel came a close second with 30% market share and Vodafone Idea Ltd was third with 28.1% share, showed data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday and analysed by brokerage ICICI Securities.
An RIL official said the Jio logo is a mirror image of the word “oil" written in lower case, both businesses dear to Ambani.