War of ideas, Pune-based startup files case against Hyderabad-based startup for IP theft

  • Kalyan Subramani, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • Updated: May 04, 2016 10:42 IST
Pune-based entrepreneur Shrikant Kunden has also dragged India Angel Network in its complaint saying that the angel investors passed on his ideas to the promoters of Zippr. (Livemint)

Pune-based entrepreneur Shrikant Kunden has filed a complaint with Pune Police claiming that his “Digital Location System” a technology that provides an unique digital identity to geographic addresses has been stolen and used by Hyderbad-based start up Zippr. Kunden has in his complaint also included Indian Angel Network (IAN) whose members invested Rs 6 crore and the former member Gagan Aggarwal, who is alleged to have passed on confidential information and trade secrets to Zippr.

An IAN spokesperson and Zippr founder Aditya Vuchi have dismissed the claims as frivolous and factually incorrect and in a joint email statement said that they “intend to pursue the matter seriously and take necessary legal action.”

Kunden told HT that his “Digital Location System” or DLS dates back to 2012 when it was submitted for an innovation challenge hosted by the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology and Confederation of Indian Industry, a programme sponsored by IAN. He further said that after winning the fourth place in the competition which included a cash prize of Rs 25,000, a former member of IAN approached him for possible seed investment by the network’s members. This did not fructify and the matter was dropped by both parties.

“Last year I came to know about Zippr and technology they are using that seemed very similar to my invention and also learnt that IAN members had invested in the company. I had sought clarification and after two extensions of 4 weeks each was told there was no infringement of any IPR (intellectual property rights),” said Kunden. His main bone of contention is the timeline over which the alleged theft of his idea is supposed to have taken place. He said former IAN member Gagan Aggarwal who had first initiated the investment discussion with him had left the network in September 2013, just five months after Zippr was formed. After not receiving a satisfactory response from IAN or Zippr, Kunden registered a complaint with Pune Police under the Indian Penal Code. He said the charges are now being investigated by the police.

In the joint statement IAN and Zippr said, “IAN and Zippr, absolutely refute these allegations which are factually incorrect and completely baseless. Zippr has built its proprietary location encoding technology independently to solve the core address infrastructure challenges of the country. Zippr has never spoken to the company in question or its representatives and nor was aware of their work until we received a clarification request from them in June 2015. The lawyer evaluated the case and found it factually incorrect.”

Kunden said he had filed for patentway back in 2012 which is yet to be granted. Zippr’s Vuchi said he is yet to file for patent for what he claims is his invention. “Filing for patent and granting one are completely different things,” he told HT.

He also said that providing a digital code for an address based on latitude and longitude is a very old technology in itself. What makes Zippr’s invention unique is that it provides a unique digital address for each location within the same postal address (for example a particular house in an apartment complex).

Padmaja Ruparel, President of IAN said as a policy the entrepreneurs are specifically advised not to share specific details of their technology including the coding and algorithm when investment proposals are in the discussion stage.

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