Shark Tank India, the Indian version of the American business reality television series by Sony Entertainment Television, has been embroiled in more controversies and callouts than ever in this recent season.

A lot of founders and pitchers from the show have come forward with a multitude of posts calling out the network, the show and judges for various things from wrongful editing to rude behaviour from judges, to false promises made and more.

Recently, Pathik Patel, the founder of Fit & Flex, has sent a legal notice to Sony Entertainment Television’s channel alleging that they have suspended his company’s ad account without just cause. Patel had appeared on an episode of Shark Tank India season 3 but could not secure a deal and was scrutinised by judges Deepinder Goyal and Anupam Mittal.

Shark Tank India Pitcher Sends Legal Notice

Fit & Flex in their legal notice claims that Sony Pvt Ltd. (Culver Max Entertainment Pvt Ltd.) has breached agreed-upon terms of partnership thus resulting in significant disruptions to the operations of the company.

The notice also stated that while Fit & Flex has adhered to their contractual obligations, Sony has not held up their end of the agreement which led to considerable losses for the startup.

Patel outlined his whole experience in a LinkedIn post explaining what happened and why they decided to take this step writing “Feels really sad to see this, but wasn’t left with a choice either! It has been 50 days of zero D2C business and all we get to hear is *“We won’t do anything”*.”

Patel explained that Sony has targeted their social media pages for trademark violations since they used clips from their pitch on the show.

But that was not all and Sony has even taken extra measures beyond that, he wrote “We recently aired on Shark Tank S3- on the 15th of March which was a dream come true, but what followed has turned into a nightmare. Despite our joy at being featured on national television, our happiness was short-lived. Sony Entertainment Television has unjustly targeted us for trademark violations without any prior notice.

They have striked our social media posts containing clips from the shark tank episode and have gone ahead and *blocked our Ad account, unpublished our Facebook page, disabled the collaboration feature on our brands account as well as on my personal account.*

1. No prior notice/warning was sent to us

2. Ideally we have aired in the episode, which we could use for marketing purposes for 3 months from the said date (as per their guidelines)

3. Our content was pulled down within 25 days, after which we ceased to run all shark tank clips on organic as well as paid posts

4. We have been writing to both Meta and Sony daily since, to help us with a solution, but haven’t received any resolution.

5. We don’t want to use any clips for marketing and just want our original accounts back.”

Read More: Why Did Shark Tank India Send Startup Pitcher A Legal Notice?

He further wrote how they simply want a dialogue with Sony and that they are not the only ones suffering, with almost over 70 brands also in the same boat.

He stated, “All we want is someone from the SONY Team to talk to us and help solve this amicably but sadly not a single party (sony legal or shark tank) chose to reply. Not only me but more 70+ brands are facing these challenges.”

Patel also wrote about how the promises made on Shark Tank India are not always fulfilled since many of these entrepreneurs are shown dreams of big profits, however, the reality is a business dealing with big losses instead “While we were shown a bigger picture of getting upto 5X & 7X of growth, the Shark Tank experience has in fact got us huge loss in business and a downfall of almost 10-12X.

As the founder of Fit and Flex, I’ve poured my heart and soul into building our brand from the ground up, and this is extremely disheartening to see that massive media houses are harassing startup brands.”

Patel had previously also posted about his experience on the show in a LinkedIn post writing “But as they say….partial knowledge is always more dangerous than NO knowledge!

A 15-minute edited video can only showcase that much and hence will use my platforms to debunk some popular myths! As an athlete and health-conscious foodie myself, I have always been very sincere and true to my brand ethos and will not let a 15-minute clip raise questions about 5 years of my and my team’s hard work.”

This was about the confusion around an ingredient called FoS that is found in his product and Sharks Anupam Mittal and Deepinder Goyal raising questions on it.

This is not the first time that Sony has taken action against a Shark Tank India pitcher using clips from the show with Dorje Tea being sent a legal notice for doing so in May this year.

As per a BW Legal World report Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) in response to this said, “Shark Tank India has emerged as a pivotal platform, igniting the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs nationwide.

However, because of its growing popularity, some participants are using the show’s content and branding without permission for their own commercial ventures, clearly violating SPNI’s intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright laws. In response, we have taken decisive action to curb such infringements, implementing rigorous checks to safeguard the IPR while also recognising and respecting the contestants’ achievements.”

Russell A. Stamets, Partner at Circle of Counsels was quoted by BW Legal World saying “Large companies need to balance their legitimate IP enforcement efforts with pragmatic business thinking. While Sony may have legitimate reasons for seeking shutdown of social media accounts in some cases, their actions here probably damage the Shark Tank brand and its relationship with the startup community.”

Whereas Germaine Pereira, Partner, Solomon & Co. commented that, “Sony being the proprietor and Intellectual Property Rights owner of its social media account and online platforms has a legitimate right to decide and deactivate social media accounts of participants if their content violates its Intellectual Property Rights or Sony believes the third party content does not comply with the terms on which Sony agreed to host such content.

If the Shark Tank participant believes that its content has been wrongly removed, it maybe able to seek financial compensation from Sony, but would not be able to force Sony to host its content.”

For a show that was aimed at helping aspiring Indian entrepreneurs to get investment from successful businesspeople, pitch their business to not just a panel of judges but also get nationwide exposure, there are more stories of participants being sad and discouraged with their experience on it.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Indian Express, Moneycontrol, BW Legal World

Find the blogger: @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Shark Tank, Shark Tank 3, Shark Tank pitcher, Shark Tank India, Shark Tank India pitcher, Shark Tank India controversy, Shark Tank India news, sony, sony entertainment, Entrepreneur, Pathik Patel, Pathik Patel shark tank india, Fit and Flex, Fit and Flex founder

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, or copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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