It seems to be the season of legal battles for startups. Following the legal saga that Ola and Uber have been a part of, Zippr now faces the heat from Pune-based LastMile. Founder-Director of LastMile Digital Solutions Shrikant Kunden claims that the Hyderabad-based startup has breached his company's trust and used their technology without permission to develop solutions.
Shrikant says that his patent-filed technology Digital Location System (DLS) received the fourth prize in a national competition organised by CII and Government of India. He claims that Indian Angel Network (IAN) had approached LastMile and expressed interest in funding the project. However, after a few months, Zippr was incorporated in Hyderabad with a funding from IAN and, Shrikant alleges, with LastMile’s technology.
The founder has filed criminal complaint of misusing trade secrets against Zippr and IAN with the Pune Police. Infotechlead reports that the police have registered the FIR u/s420, 406, and 34 of the IPC.
However, both IAN and Zippr have refuted the allegations. In a statement released to the press, IAN says that the accusations are factually incorrect. They went ahead to say that they have built their proprietary location encoding technology own their own. He went ahead to state that they have never spoken to the company in question or its representatives. The team states that their lawyer has evaluated the case and has found it incorrect.
Aditya Vulchi adds that Zippr has never spoken to the company until they received a clarification request from Shrikant in June 2015. He added that their legal team has reviewed the matter, evaluated the merit of this accusation and found it to be devoid of any substance. They have also filed pre-grant opposition, questioning Shrikant’s novelty and sent the required notice back in September 2015.
Biggies in the startup ecosystem, like OYO Rooms, Zo Rooms, Uber and Ola have all had to deal with legal messes. Abhay Shankar, Lead Partner – Dispute Resolution at Kaden Boriss told YourStory that such battles for startups are expected and that we would be seeing more in the future.
Several sources claim that over a dozen startups across different sectors are a part of legal battles. Principal Associate at PSA Dhruv Suri adds that these are extension of financial muscle startups gained through the war chest of risk capital that they have amassed. He adds,
Funded startups operating in same space also engage in legal fights intentionally to create disturbance for nearest competitor.