Will the Real IndiaWorld Please Stand Up?

Satyam Infoway’s apparent acquisition of IndiaWorld seems to be running into
troubled waters with a US-based company which claims true ownership of IndiaWorld.

“It’s only a fake tale,” Victor George, managing director of IndiaWorld told this correspondent. “Someone came out of nowhere, used indiaworld.co.in, claimed the original title [and] raked up all the money from
another company, Satyam, which is well known in India.”

IndiaWorld.com is an Internet services company managed by U.S.-based ASAP
Solutions Inc.

According to Victor George, IndiaWorld has not been acquired by the Indian
ISP Satyam, a Nasdaq-listed (SIFY) company.


“IndiaWorld
and its logo are protected by the United States Federal Trademark as a portal
Web site catering to India. IndiaWorld is unaware of any recent acquisition
claims made by Satyam Info in India over purchase of [the] IndiaWorld portal site at
115 million US dollars.”

“However, IndiaWorld has been fully aware of the
trademark infringements in the USA by all of the sites run by the duplicate
Indian IndiaWorld and now surprisingly by Satyam Info,” he
said.

“There’s envy for Rajesh Jain, founder of IndiaWorld [www.indiaworld.co.in],” a
close friend of Rajesh Jain, founder and chairman of IndiaWorld told this
correspondent. “Satyam has taken over indiaworld.co.in for the sake of its
contents. The U.S.-based IndiaWorld [is] purposefully creating controversy. Nobody
said that Satyam bought out IndiaWorld. What Satyam bought was just
indiaworld.co.in.”

IndiaWorld, a company with a turnover of Rs1.3 crore (US$300,000) and a
profit of Rs25 lakhs (US$58,139) has just been bought for $115
million by Satyam.
However, documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
indicate that Satyam has purchased indiaworld.co.in and its associated portals
and not IndiaWorld.com, as been widely reported by the media, said Satyam
sources.

But both indiaworld.com and indiaworld.co.in sport identical logos. This, in
spite of the fact that they are not mirror sites. Rajesh Jain, managing
director of India World said that he had no comments to make. He, however,
clarified that “everything was crystal clear as far as both parties (he and
Satyam) were concerned.” He contended that there were no claims made about
selling IndiaWorld.com.

Sources at Satyam said that the company is not interested in the IndiaWorld
trademark and is willing to give it up. Reacting to claims by ASAP
Solutions on IndiaWorld.com and associated trademarks, Satyam Infoway
Managing director R Ramaraj reportedly stated that his company has “nothing to do with IndiaWorld.com.”

“Satyam bought IndiaWorld for the 13 dotcom properties including Khel.com and
Khoj.com which generate a lot of international traffic,” he said. “These sites
will give international presence to Satyam’s web portal and will be a big
advantage for attracting advertising,” he added.

Sources said Satyam was aware of the claim by ASAP.


“Our merchant bankers
did point this out at the time of the deal. However, our interest was limited
to the URL indiaworld.co.in and the other portals under
its banner,” he added.

However, there is another angle for this story. According to Yacoub Ghassan,
chairman and CEO of ASAP Solutions, Rajesh Jain was inducted into the project
to develop IndiaWorld.com. Ghassan alleges that the relationship with Jain was
terminated because “Rajesh breached our business arrangements and because
he pirated U.S. technology know-how.”

Subsequent to the relationship being terminated, Jain returned to India and
created indiaworld.co.in, he said. Sources close to Jain refused to comment
about this allegat

ion.

Analysts felt that, if the allegations are true, information was either
suppressed by Rajesh Jain, or manipulated.

“Due to restrictions from our legal counsel, I can’t say
much, but we have taken action since November 1996, but India does not have
till today any Intellectual Property or Trademark Laws in place,” said Victor George. “This is why
anybody in India can take advantage of ideas that are born here in the USA.
Everybody knows the dot.com is from the US and indiaworld.com was launched in
February 1995 long before Rajesh Jain copied the idea and sold to Satyam.”

However, one who visits both the sites and read the ‘about’ page will get a
shock. Both sites say they started their operations in the same date: March
13, 1995.

Who owns IndiaWorld now? It remains a multi-million dollar question.

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