Bengaluru-based bakery Happy Belly Bakes sued Amazon in court after discovering that the latter was offering a number of snacks under a similar moniker. This is how a small Bengaluru-based bakery took on Amazon and won.
You might not be familiar with Bengaluru-based bakery Happy Belly Bakes unless you reside there, yet this small company successfully fought e-commerce giant Amazon in a trademark dispute and prevailed in a city civil court. According to the order’s copy, which Moneycontrol was able to read, the judge ruled in Happy Belly Bakes’ favor.
Cakes, brownies, cookies, and other baked products are sold by Happy Belly Bakes, a female-run company Shisham Hinduja created in 2008. After changing its name from Regalar to this in 2010, it has held the trademark for “Happy Belly” since 2016.
Hinduja, who had not started selling their goods on Amazon, started getting calls throughout the 2017 holiday season wondering if they had.
It was, in fact, Happy Belly, one of Amazon’s many private brands, which debuted in 2016. Under this trademark, it sells bakery items, dairy, crackers, snacks, spices, and other items in some of the markets where it operates.
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Then, Hinduja’s Happy Belly Bakes sued Amazon Seller Services, Cloudtail India (which was originally one of Amazon’s top sellers and was partly controlled by it; it has since ceased operations), and Tootsie LLC, who submitted the trademark application on Amazon’s behalf.
Amazon argued that Hinduja’s claim of trademark infringement was unfounded because the two businesses are unrelated and have different business models.
Whereas Hinduja’s Happy Belly Bakes were only available in Bengaluru, Cloudtail and Tootsie asserted that they had been using “Happy Belly” for their products all over the world.
Amazon tried to file a trademark application for the name “Happy Belly,” through Tootsie in 2016, but was unsuccessful.
Since 2018 in India, Amazon has stopped selling goods under the Happy Belly brand.
After more than four years in court, a ruling in Hinduja’s favor was made on August 30 of this year, concluding that Amazon had infringed the Happy Belly Bakes trademark.
Amazon even argued in court that Happy Belly Bakes lacked goodwill and reputation, according to the verdict. The court rejected this claim, noting that the firm has been in business since 2008 and that the “contention shows the arrogance of defendants.”
“As such, the use of trademark HAPPY BELLY is certainly infringing and passing off of the plaintiff’s trademark,” the court said in favor of the Bengaluru bakery. It barred Cloudtail and Tootsie from using the name in the country indefinitely and stated that the company’s mark or emblem is ‘deceptively similar.’
Additionally, it gave Amazon Seller Services the order to remove any products bearing the Happy Belly Bakes trademark that are offered on Amazon’s Indian marketplace.
Even though Hinduja’s Happy Belly Bakes won this case, Amazon has frequently been charged with undercutting local businesses. It has been charged with undercutting small businesses by leveraging information from platform-based independent sellers to introduce a product that would compete with the seller in the US.
The Competition Commission of India is aware of it in India as well. According to Reuters, the CCI conducted an investigation against Cloudtail and another Amazon seller, Appario, in April of this year because of alleged violations of the competition law, including claims of pushing preferred vendors and providing priority listings. Amazon has also been charged with aggressive pricing in the past.