Kirloskar Brothers Ltd (KBL), led by Sanjay Kirloskar, on Tuesday accused four firms under his brothers Atul and Rahul of trying to "usurp" its legacy of 130 years and trying to mislead the public, which has been refuted by the other side.
As the family feud simmers, KBL in a letter to capital markets regulator Sebi claimed that recent press releases by Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd (KOEL), Kirloskar Industries Ltd (KIL), Kirloskar Pneumatic Company Ltd (KPCL) and Kirloskar Ferrous Industries Ltd (KFIL) "have sought to usurp the legacy" of KBL.
Also, they attempted to pass off the legacy and track record of KBL as that of their own, the letter said.
When contacted, a spokesperson of Kirloskar Industries Ltd (KIL) said the letter by KBL to Sebi "contains a large number of factual inaccuracies and mis-statements."
"Nothing contained in the entire press release even remotely makes any reference to KBL let alone "attempting to pass off the legacy and track record of Kirloskar Brothers Limited as that of their own"," the spokesperson added.
On July 16, five firms led by brothers Atul and Rahul Kirloskar had announced a 'refresh' exercise of their respective businesses, with an eye on evolving from engineering-led firms into customer-focussed solution providers.
They had stated that "Kirloskar's 'Limitless' mission transforms Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd., Kirloskar Chillers Pvt Ltd., Kirloskar Pneumatic Company Ltd., Kirloskar Ferrous Industries Ltd., and Kirloskar Industries Ltd."
Announcing a refreshed brand identity and colours, these firms had also adopted a new 'Kirloskar' logo which has "elements of human-centricity and future-readiness, the colours allude to the legacy that the 130-year-old name carries, and the years put in to fulfil the dreams of those it has touched."
Taking exception to it, KBL's letter to Sebi said it is "clearly a misrepresentation and is misleading" as KOEL, KIL, KPCL and KFIL were incorporated in 2009, 1978, 1974 and 1991 respectively and do not "have nor can it claim to have a 130-year-old legacy".
Responding to the allegations, the KIL spokesperson said, "The reference to '130 year' is to the "name" "Kirloskar" and not to any entity or organisation."
KBL also contested the claim by these firms which stated that "the conglomerate has been an integral part of India's industrial revolution", saying the one which has a 130-year-old legacy is KBL, "which was a pioneer in the industrial revolution in India".
However, the KIL spokesperson said,"...since each of these companies form a part of the Kirloskar Group that was founded by Mr. Laxmanrao Kashinath Kirloskar and hence the press release that 'The conglomerate has been an integral part of India's industrial revolution' is by no stretch of imagination "a clear misrepresentation and tantamounts to conveying misleading information" as alleged or at all."
In the letter to Sebi, KBL also accused the four firms of unauthorised usage of the tag "rich legacy extending over a span of 130 years" by taking it from its website.
KBL further said KIL is "not entitled to be a licensee of the trademark and copyright 'Kirloskar', since it is not a shareholder of Kirloskar Proprietary Limited (KPL), and which is a condition precedent for KPL to license its marks to any persons."
Refuting the allegation, the KIL spokesperson said, "We would also like to note that KIL has been duly licensed by Kirloskar Proprietary Limited (KPL), the owner of the mark “Kirloskar”, for using the trademark and copyright “Kirloskar”, after having complied with all requisite conditions for grant of such licence by KPL."
Alleging "gross misrepresentations and misleading statements deliberately made by each of KOEL, KIL, KPCL and KFIL in their respective intimations", KBL asked the market regulator to "immediately initiate necessary corrective steps and actions, including passing cease and desist orders against" these companies.
It further said Sebi "should forthwith initiate action against them, penalise them, call upon them to withdraw their intimations and issue corrective statements..."
The company also said the corrected statements by the four companies should be "directed to be placed on the websites of the BSE and the NSE, so as to correct any misimpression created in the minds of the investor community, the general public and the market."
KBL further said it is "separately taking necessary steps" with the Advertising Standards Council of India with regards to advertisements issued by the four companies "which contain misrepresentations and misleading statements, and are seeking to usurp the 130-year-rich legacy of our company".
Earlier this month, the feud over the deed of family settlement over the assets of the more than 130-year-old Kirloskar group reached the Supreme Court, with Sanjay Kirloskar, CMD of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, knocking at the doors of the apex court against an order of the Bombay high court that had relegated the dispute to arbitration.
Image: . Photograph: Courtesy KBL