Shrikant Kunden, a Pune based entrepreneur developed a novel, innovative, patent-filed technology on digital addressing, “Digital Location System (DLS)”. After DLS winning 4th Prize in a national level competition organised by the Government of India & CII in 2012, Indian Angel Network (IAN), the largest angel funding house, on the pretext of being interested in investing in it, asked Kunden to submit a complete detailed techno-commercial proposal but didn’t fund it. But, soon Kunden realised that IAN has converted the know-how thus received for its development & benefit in connivance with Zipper Private Limited, in which IAN invested Rs 6 Cr at a much lower valuation.
Kunden lodged an FIR on 26th March’2016 against IAN, Zipper & Gagan Agarwal, Incubator Manager, IAN for the offence u/s IPC 420, 406 & 34 for alleged misusing confidential documents, valuable information, trade secrets about DLS and, criminal breach of trust.
Since the offence involves software, patent, e-mail & mobile communications, Kunden had requested the Police repeatedly for transferring the case to Cyber Division to investigate and, adding Copy-Right & IT Act related sections that were missing in FIR. Pune police ignored the request & got the investigation done by the criminal division. After 3 years of poor investigation, Police filed an A-Summary report in the Pune Court requesting closure of the said FIR for not being able to find adequate pieces of evidence the against accused. Kunden filed a Protest petition in the court opposing the closure of the FIR.
Kunden also filed an additional Private petition, making Aditya Vuchi (Hyd), Padmaja Shailen Ruparel (Delhi), Dr Saurabh Srivastav (Delhi), Sanjay Bharatkumar Mehta (Mumbai) party in the said offence, also alleging that Pune Police is hand-in-gloves with the accused in the entire investigation and, appealing the court to investigate the crime under judicial monitoring by issuing process, u/s 420, 406, 417, 120(B) of IPC and section 120 read with 124 of the Patents Act, 1970 and section 72 read with section 85 of the Information Technology Act 2000 (Amendment Act) 2008.
In December’2021, the honourable court not only rejected “A-Summary” expressing complete dissatisfaction over the investigation report but, also took cognisance of serious observations about the overall investigation done on FIR & allegations levelled against Police in the Private petition and ordered Police to conduct independent fact-finding inquiry u/s 202 of CRPC, before court issuing process.
“With the court's intervention in the matter now I hope police will do proper investigation and give me due to justice,” says Kunden.
Consequent to the complaint registered, Zippr had filed pre-grant opposition in 2015-16 against Kunden’s patent application, in anticipation of serious implications of patent infringement suit in future once the patent gets granted.
“The conduct of Mumbai Patent Office during the hearing process was biased and full of exceptions much like Pune Police investigation. During the examination, we have had 18 hours of record long hearing on our matter with the patent examiner & had submitted 331 pages of document quashing every objection. Yet, Patent Office in its order document mentions only the objections raised by Zippr & leaves the section on the clarification given completely blank. As in, I did not give any say or given any submissions against objections. Thus the patent refused. We then filed an appeal against this erroneous order and the matter is in Mumbai High Court.” says Kunden.
In 2017, Zippr then filed a case against me in Hyderabad alleged that Kunden threatened the company for using the disputed technology for making business. Zippr presented the court caution letter sent by Kunden to the company as a threatening letter and sought an injunction. According to Patent Act 1970, the patent applicant gets like-privileges from the date of application. And the applicant has a legitimate right to send in a caution letter to the infringer, making him aware of the legalities of it. Interestingly at the last moment, our lawyer turned hostile and did not file written submission as prescribed, on the due date. Finally, the court passed a temporary injunction, restraining Kunden from threatening Zippr for using the technology for business. The order also states that the injunction is subject to the result of the Patent Application and the findings of the said order are not binding on the police investigating agents. We then filed an appeal against this Injunction Order in Hyderabad High Court” says Kunden.
In 2018, Vuchi then filed a fake FIR in Hyderabad alleging that Kunden had made threatening calls from 2 Pune based landline phones and, also sent 2 goons to Hyderabad who beat & threaten Vuchi and, demanded Rs 5 Cr settle the ongoing cases.
“Vuchi filed the above fake FIR to pressurise me to withdraw FIR against him in Pune. Hyderabad Police were not investigating the matter and keeping the FIR pending. As anticipated, the police one day advised me to withdraw FIR against Vuchi against which he offered to withdraw this case. I refused. We somehow collected the call details registry (CDR) reports of those 2 landline phones. The report reveals that there were no calls made onto Vuchi’s mobile from these landline phones ever. We submitted documentary evidence to the Hyderabad Police, Commissioner and filed a Quash Petition in March’2019 in Honourable Hyderabad High Court to close the fake FIR and take strict actions against Vuchi, fake witnesses & Hyderabad Police for this conspiracy & harassment.” says Kunden.
We all appreciate the vision of honourable PM Shri Narendra Modi about “Start-up India” & “Innovate India”. Undoubtedly, these initiatives will help in generating huge employment opportunities & fostering the economic growth of the country. Believing in his vision, the start-up fever is catching up very fast in our country. Today more than 55,000 Startups are registered in India. And, more and more talented graduates are stepping into the entrepreneurship journey. Today, our Start-up ecosystem is the third-largest in the world after China and the US.
The investor community is undoubtedly one of the major backbones for the growth of the start-ups as they are the ones who bet sizeable money on their ideas. Investors always show interest in start-ups that have business models focused on innovation. And for any such innovation, secrecy & protection are the major factors. All start-ups look for investors, at some stage, but mostly at an early stage which is catered by High Net worth Individuals (HNIs) or a group of HNIs, called “Angel investors”.
Government bodies organise several exhibitions, seminars, forums, competitions to promote start-up and innovation across the country. All investors participate in such programs without fail as they get free, un-controlled access to un-limited brilliant ideas, talent & proposals. Since it is a government forum, start-ups tend to believe that they are in safe hands and start disclosing everything. But, the big question is; are all investors angels? It just reminds the quote “Even the devil was once an angel”.
The above experience is very damaging to the spirit of Start-Up and innovation. If they are not taken care of at their respective level, the entire ecosystem will fall. It will be a big setback to our honourable PM’s Start-Up vision, will set a wrong image in the global community and will ruin the career of thousands of budding entrepreneurs & inventors.
This article was published with reference to a press release from the management of IZON Technologies Private Limited .
If you want to cross-check the above fact, feel free to connect with Shrikant Kunden on LinkedIn