The company MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited (hereinafter referred to as ‘MMT’) was incorporated in the year 2000 and started its business with airline booking and is today one of the largest travel companies in India. MMT was originally incorporated with the name ‘Travel by web Private Limited’, and subsequently on 2nd August 2000 changed its name to ‘MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited’. MMT is somewhat of a pioneer of the Indian online travel industry and has carved out a niche for itself within the travel industry. MMT which is the registered proprietor of the word and device mark ‘MakeMyTrip’ under various classes of the Trademarks Act, 1999, has been at the center of numerous trademark dispute. In this post we attempt to take a look at some of the most recent and ongoing trademark disputes involving MMT.
MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited v. HappyEasyGo India Private Limited, CS(COMM) 916/2018
In the year 2018, MMT filed a trademark infringement suit against a popular travel booking website ‘HappyEasyGo’ and Google India for engaging in illegal activities with malafide intent of diverting business from ‘MakeMyTrip’ website to HappyEasyGo’s website by riding on the reputation and goodwill associated with MMT. It was alleged by MMT that ‘HappyEasyGo’ was appearing in the sponsored links section of the Google search engine when search was conducted for the words ‘MakeMyTrip’. Subsequently, on 30th May 2018, Hon’ble High Court of Delhi passed an interim order restraining ‘HappyEasyGo’, its Partner, Directors, Shareholders, Assigns in business, Affiliates, Subsidiaries, Agents, Broadcasters, Representatives, Advertisers, Franchisees, Licensees, and/or all other persons acting on behalf of ‘HappyEasyGo’ from bidding for, adopting and using ‘MakeMyTrip’ mark, or any deceptive variant thereof, as an Ad Word through the Ad Word Program of Google or any other ad word/keyword program in any manner whatsoever.
Well, it seems that ‘HappyEasyGo’ had hard time in understanding Hon’ble High Court of Delhi’s interim order as in December 2020 when the travel market started opening up after COVID – 19, it was observed that ‘HappyEasyGo’ was again using ‘MakeMyTrip’ as the keyword on the ad word program in violation of the HC Order. Thereafter, MMT filed contempt of court application against ‘HappyEasyGo’. Further on 26th February 2021, the Delhi High Court directed search engine Google to suspend the advertising account of the travel booking website, ‘HappyEasyGo.com’ on its Ad Words programme, where companies bid for keywords to appear on top of Google’s search results. At current the matter is pending before Hon’ble Court for final order.
The next one in the queue is – MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited v. MakeMyTravel (India) Private Limited, CS(COMM) 889/2018
In the year 2018, MMT filed a suit for trademark infringement against a website called ‘Make My Travel (India) Private Limited’ for using the words ‘MakeMyTravel’ and ‘MMT’ for their services. The MMT also accused ‘Make My Travel (India) Private Limited’ of trying to use their tagline ‘Memories Unlimited’ by changing the same to ‘Dreams Unlimited’ as part of their website and services. Lastly, the MMT also accused ‘Make My Travel (India) Private Limited’ of using a logo which was identical and similar to that of the MMT on their website ‘www.makemytravelindia.com’. It was argued in the court that ‘It is a well – known fact that MMT had continuously and uninterruptedly used the marks ‘MakeMyTrip’ and MMT logo, the tag line ‘Memories Unlimited’ and ‘Hotels Unlimited’ and had earned immense reputation and goodwill’. The MMT further submitted that the mark ‘MakeMyTravel’ is phonetically, visually, and structurally similar to the MMT’s registered mark ‘MakeMyTrip’ and that the adoption of the marks MMT and ‘Dreams Unlimited’ for identical services created a sense of collaboration or nexus between both in the minds of the consumers in complete violation of section 9 as well as section 11 of Trademark Act. The Delhi High Court on 17th May 2018 passed an interim injunction order with the opinion that it is a prima facie case of infringement, passing off and consequently, Make My Travel (India) Private Limited’, is restrained from using the MMT Marks. This included the use of ‘MakeMyTravel’ (word per se), MMT (letter mark), ‘Dreams Unlimited’ (tag line), www.makemytravelindia.com and ‘MakeMyTravel’ logos or any other trademark/trade name/trade dress or logo/device, which is identical to and/or deceptively similar to ‘MakeMyTrip’ logo marks, namely, MakeMyTrip (wordmark), MMT (letter mark), and ‘Memories Unlimited’ and ‘Hotels Unlimited’ (tag line). The matter at present is adjourned until further notice due to COVID Lockdown with the instruction that the interim injunction dated 17th May 2018 will continue to operate during the pendency of the proceedings.
Yet another TM war of MMT is MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited v. Easy Trip Planners Private Limited and Ors., CS(COMM) 1287/2018
Again, in the year 2018, ‘MakeMyTrip’ filed a suit for trademark infringement against Easy Trip Planners Private Limited, Google India Private Limited, and Google LLC as Easy Trip Planners Private Limited’s website was appearing in the sponsored links section of the Google search engine when a search was conducted for the mark ‘MakeMyTrip’ while availing the Google India Private Limited and Google LLC’s Ad Word Program due to bidding and allotment of keywords that were identical and/or deceptively similar to those of the MMT. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi believed that a prima facie case of infringement and hence, on 13th December 2018 the Hon’ble court passed an Interim Injunction in favour of Plaintiff restraining the Easy Trip Planners Private Limited from bidding for, adopting and using MMT’s Word Mark – ‘MakeMyTrip’, or any deceptive variant thereof, whether with the inclusion of spaces or other special characters in the trademark ‘MakeMyTrip’, as an Ad Word through the Ad Word Program of Google or any other ad word/keyword program in any manner whatsoever. The matter at present is adjourned until further notice due to the ongoing pandemic.
Well, it won’t be wrong to say that Easy Trip Planner Private Limited and MMT is having hard time to get along due to numerous TM WAR between them, another TM war between them is – MakeMyTrip (India) Private Limited v. Easy Trip Planners Private Limited, CS(COMM) 118/2019
In the year 2019, ‘MakeMyTrip’ filed yet another trademark infringement suit against Easy Trip Planners Private Limited for use of the word ‘EaseMyTrip’, an identically similar logo, and domain names ‘www.easemytrip.com’, ‘www.easemytrip.in’, ‘b2b.easemytrip.com’ and ‘corporate.easemytrip.com’. It was contended by MMT that the adoption of the ‘EaseMyTrip’ wordmark and Logo was malafide and amounted to infringement of the right to exclusivity of MMT. At Present, the matter is adjourned until further notice due to COVID Lockdown.
The most recent TM war of MMT is Makemytrip (India) Private Limited v. M/S Travelogy & Ors., CS(COMM) 524/2020
Last year, (2020), ‘MakeMyTrip’ filed a trademark infringement suit against M/S Travelogy, Google India Private Limited, and Google LLC accusing them of engaging in illegal activities with malafide intent to divert business from ‘MakeMyTrip’ to that of third parties websites. On 17th February 2021, Hon’ble High Court passed a decree in favour of the MMT granting permanent injunction against the M/s Travelogy, its partners, directors, shareholders, assigns in business, affiliates, subsidiaries, agents, broadcasters, representatives, advertisers, franchisees, licensees and/or all other persons acting on its behalf from in any manner bidding for, adopting and using the MMT’s Word Marks – MakeMyTrip, or any deceptive variant thereof, whether with the inclusion of spaces or other special characters in the trademark MakeMyTrip and MMT, as a Keyword through Google Ads Program or any other ad word/keyword program in any manner whatsoever, amounting to passing off, unfair competition infringement of the MakeMyTrip’s Word Marks under Section 29 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.
MakeMyTrip has been one of the most aggressive companies as far as protecting its intellectual properties are concerned and this is certainly an aspect that most companies must consider emulating. Having said that, it is quite clear that a prima facie case of infringement and/or passing off as well as ‘bad faith’ has made out in favour of ‘MakeMyTrip’ in all the above matters and it will be interesting to see how and what the Courts will decide in these cases.