After Vadilal, another iconic ice-cream brand is seeing a meltdown in relations between the families of its founders. Ravi Ghai, son of Iqbal Ghai, who founded the `Kwality’ brand, has dragged his father’s former business partner, PL Lamba, to court, alleging the Lambas unlawfully transferred the intellectual property of brand `Kwality’ to another company. This has come up at a time when the Vadilal Group, which sells the eponymous ice-cream products, is in the middle of a feud in the promoter family.
Ghai, promoter of Mumbaibased Graviss Holdings, accused the Lambas of selling the copyright of the artistic work of the word `Kwality’ to Delhi-based dairy firm Kwality Ltd in August. According to him, Graviss owns the rights to the trademark.
In the Delhi High Court, Graviss argued that it had given limited rights to the Lambas to use the trademark for ice-cream and ice lollies in north India. This didn’t entitle the “defendants to further assign the same in favour of any third party,” lawyer Rajiv Nayar argued for the company.
The court last month directed the Lambas and Kwality Ltd to restrain from the usage of the brand till further order. ET has seen a copy of the court order. Kwality mired in feud among founder families over intellectual property Kwality Ltd didn’t respond to an email sent by ET seeking comment. PL Lamba’s son Sunil Lamba, who has been named a party to the case by Graviss, said he didn’t know anything about the case as his “son was handling it”.
Ghai alleged that Lambas sold the rights to use Kwality artwork in relation to milk products and non-alcoholic beverages to Kwality Ltd.Founded in 1992, Kwality Ltd sells dairy products under its brand `Dairy Best’. After purchasing the `Kwality’ artwork from Lambas, the company roped in actor Akshay Kumar to endorse its products under the same brand name. VP Garg, director, corporate at the Graviss Group, alleged Kwality Ltd had not implemented the high court order yet. “We might have to file a contempt of court notice against them,” he said.
Food entrepreneurs Ghai and Lamba began by selling handmade ice-cream under the `Kwality’ brand in pre-Independence Delhi in 1940 and later opened iconic fine dining chains under the Gaylord and Kwality brands in India and overseas. The family business – Lamba married Ghai’s sister – was split in 1979 with the holding rights of the `Kwality’ brand lying with the Ghais.
Lamba owned the territorial rights for the brand in the northern region, while the territorial rights for south and east were given to two other individuals. These rights were restricted to manufacturing ice cream and ice cream on sticks for the respective territories, Garg said.
In 1994, the four partners sold their trademark for ice cream and ice cream on sticks under the Kwality brand to Hindustan Unilever, while the copyright in the artistic work remained with Graviss, Garg said. Currently, PL Lamba’s son is running the restaurant chains, while the Ghais manage the India franchise for global ice-cream brand Baskin Robbins.
Graviss also owns InterContinental Hotel at Marine Drive in Mumbai, apart from restaurant chain Zaffran, frozen yoghurt chain 6th Street Yogurt, neighbourhood delicatessen store Meats & More and a joint venture with American frozen food maker Rich Products Corporation to produce non-dairy whip topping.