Facebook seems to be embroiled in one Indian controversy after another. After failing to garner support for its FreeBasics campaign in the country, Facebook landed in another soup this week after it pulled down the page of Indian home decor startup, Houzify.
Facebook took down the page after US-based Sequoia Capital-backed rival Houzz Inc. complained of copyright infringements. A trademark dispute between the two interior design sites became social media’s news of the day after Facebook deleted the Indian company’s page without any due warning. As of Wednesday, the link to Houzify’s page had been replaced with an error message saying it was broken or had been removed.
Houzify is backed by Naveen Tewari, founder of mobile ads platform InMobi, and former Infosys board member Mohandas Pai. It has about 120,000 users. Houzz, founded in 2009, is a US-based startup that last raised funding in 2014 at a valuation of $2.3 billion. It has over 35 million users.
In December 2015, Houzz sent Houzify a ‘cease and desist’ notice because of its similarity to “the famous Houzz mark”. Houzify replied, saying that it has pending trademark applications for its name since 2015 in India. It also offered to carry a temporary disclaimer and make slight alteration to its logo.
Indian startup companies are since then up-in-arms, saying Facebook acted unilaterally and only inflamed the copyright issue. “Facebook has acted on Houzz’s complaint of copyright infringement in the US, which is not even applicable in India,” said Houzify founder, Gunaseelan Radhakrishnan in a chat with DEALSTREETASIA. “We are spending about $120,000 for marketing on Facebook. It is our main marketing channel with 52,000 followers. And yet we were given no warning or recourse. How can Facebook be called a neutral platform?” said Radhakrishnan.
A spokesman for Facebook in India said the company was still investigating and had no further comment.