Shark Tank India vs Dorje Teas, A Hot Brewing Battle of Rights

May 6, 2024: Dorje Teas, a subscription-based tea startup, has found itself embroiled in a legal battle after receiving a stern notice from Shark Tank India, a Sony Pictures Networks India reality tv show. What’s the bone of contention? The unauthorized use of clips from their own pitch on YouTube and Meta ads.

The popular business reality TV series, has been a game-changer for countless entrepreneurs. However, not all startup stories have a fairy-tale ending.

Dorje Teas, delivers fresh-from-farm and organic Darjeeling Tea to customers across India, had a successful stint on reality TV series. Co-founder Sparsh Agarwal secured investments from Anupam Mittal, Peyush Bansal, and Vineeta Singh, totaling Rs 30 lakh for a 15% equity stake, valuing the company at Rs 2 crore. However, their post-show promotional efforts landed them in hot water.

According to Agarwal’s LinkedIn disclosure, Dorje Teas received a legal notice from Shark Tank India, alleging copyright violation. The offense? Using clips from their own pitch in promotional content. These clips appeared on YouTube and Meta ads, catching the attention of Sony Pictures Networks India’s legal team.

The teas startup isn’t alone. Sony Pictures has cracked down on every startup that graced the reality TV series stage. Other companies, including Skippi, Assembly, Perfora, Hoovu Fresh, Beyond Snack, Wakao Foods, and Nasher Miles, have also faced similar legal scrutiny. These startups invest significant resources each month to boost Shark Tank content, inadvertently promoting the show and enhancing brand recall for Shark Tank India.

Agarwal questions the rationale behind Sony’s actions. While acknowledging copyright laws, he highlights the contradiction: “Why would they do this? After all, startups like Dorje contribute to the show’s popularity and indirectly benefit the Shark Tank India brand.” He believes that Sony’s move goes against the ethos of supporting small businesses.

Shark Tank India Building a New India; But Dorje Teas Experience Turns Sour

The Reality TV series season 3 has emphasized supporting India’s startup ecosystem and fostering a new India. Agarwal’s poignant query remains: “How will we build a ‘new India’ if such actions persist?” The clash between copyright protection and entrepreneurial promotion raises critical questions about balancing legal rights and fostering innovation.

As the legal battle unfolds, Dorje Teas and other startups caught in the crossfire face a dilemma. While respecting intellectual property rights is crucial, nurturing a thriving startup ecosystem is equally vital. Perhaps it’s time for reality TV series and its legal team to find a harmonious solution—one that encourages innovation without stifling creativity.

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