Micromax loses its ‘Bling’ brand name

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood hunk Akshay Kumar won’t be able to say ‘It twinkles!’ anymore on television to his wife Twinkle Khanna’s antics with a Micromax Bling phone. The Delhi High Court has restrained India’s second-largest mobile phone brand Micromax from selling or advertising one of its largest-selling women-oriented mobile phones ‘Bling’ as it acceded to a trademark violation filed by Delhi-based mobile phone maker Bling Telecom.

As per the order, a copy of which is with ET, the court restrained Micromax, including its employees, agents, representatives, or anyone acting on their behalf, from using the trademark ‘Bling’ or any other name confusingly similar till the next date of hearing, February 8, 2010.

The court order, dated October 19, restrains the company from displaying the Bling ads on TV and print, for which Micromax paid a hefty undisclosed amount to Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna. Costing around Rs 6,500, the phone, embedded with Swarovski elements, is one of the largest selling women-oriented phones in the market from Micromax. The ad campaign, which shows Twinkle Khanna, flashing her shiny ‘Bling’ phone in a high street fashion show, was aimed at changing Micromax’s image of a low-cost handset company into a branded high fashion phone company.

Micromax declined to comment on the emails and phone calls by ET reporters on the issue. On the other hand, Bling Telecom chairman Rajiv Khanna says the company had filed for the trademark in July 2009 and has since introduced six models under the brand name. “We are the prior users of the trademark ‘Bling’ in relation to telecom goods such as mobile phones, and the use of the mark Bling by Micromax for mobile phones is without our consent.” Bling Telecom also sells mobile phones under the brand name ‘Movil’ in India.

In contrast, Micromax has become the second-largest mobile phone seller in India after Nokia in two-and-a-half years of the company’s advent in the Rs 29,000-crore Indian handset market.

Kunal Bajaj, partner at Analysys Mason, telecom and media consulting firm says Micromax has been successful in grabbing a 10% market share in India with products like Bling. “The phone has been quite successful in grabbing eyeballs, market attention and Micromax has been able to create a new form factor, a unique design specific to Indian consumers and make it a success,” he adds. Micromax has distinguished itself from local players, making cheaper versions of Samsung or Nokia and created unique set of features in new products that take only 3-6 months to hit the 12-million handsets a month in the Indian market. The company has even made market leader Nokia lose a chunk of the precious market share over the last few quarters.
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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