Quantum Asset Management Co (AMC), India's 36th largest fund house with assets of Rs 1,287 crore, is upset with quant Money Managers, India's 39th largest fund house. After filing a complaint with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in October 2018, Quantum AMC has now served a legal notice to quant this month asking it to change its name.
An industry official privy to the case told Moneycontrol that Quantum AMC felt the names of both fund houses sound similar and it could create "confusion in the minds of investors".
Quantum AMC's spokesperson said that such a complaint has been filed with RoC but refused to make any further comments on the matter.
"We can confirm that a notice has been issued through our advocates to the representatives of Quant Money Managers Limited. However, in light of the fact that the matter is sub-judice (reserved for the pronouncement of order) before the Regional Director, Northern Region, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, New Delhi, we are unable to comment on the issue with Quant at this point of time," said a Quantum AMC spokesperson.
Sandeep Tandon, Founder of quant Group confirmed to have received the notice in February 2019. "We have submitted our detailed response to the regional director's office and copies of the same have been sent to the board members of Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited and Quantum Trustee Company Private Limited," he said.
Tandon and two other senior mutual fund industry officials said that both parties put forth their arguments at the RoC recently.
Quantum AMC commenced operations in March 2006 with the launch of its first scheme, Quantum Long Term Equity Value Fund. Quantum Advisors, the sponsor firm of Quantum AMC, was formed in 1990 and has been advising international clients and high networth individuals to invest in India.
Tandon had founded quant group in 2007 and managed money for high networth families and family offices. In 2015, Tandon in his personal capacity acquired a small stake of 9 percent in the erstwhile Escorts Asset Management Ltd, a Delhi-based fund house. In December 2017, the Escorts Group decided to exit the Indian MF industry and Tandon's quant group took control of the fund house. It renamed the company quant Money Managers in February 2018 and received the Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI's) final approval in June 2018.
Further, Tandon said he owns and is the registered proprietor of the trademark ‘quant’ "in relation to financial services, mutual funds, monetary services and allied services".
Quantum AMC has not yet registered its name with the trademark authorities.
Nazneen Ichhaporia who is partner at ANB Legal and heads the intellectual property rights practice at the firm said: "There could be an element of confusion. However, if "quant" is a registered trademark, then there’s not much that Quantum AMC can do. Besides, when someone applies for a trademark- as was the case with quant- the trademark authorities would have published the same in the Trade Marks Journal (available on the website of the authority), inviting objections from the general public. If nobody objected within a period of 90 days or the opposition is successfully resolved, only then the trademark gets registered. Post this, the applicant is legally entitled to use the registered trademark."
Two industry officials confirmed to Moneycontrol that SEBI has chosen to not intervene in the matter. When contacted CEO at Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC and director on Association of Mutual Fund of India’s (Amfi) board A Balasubramanian said, "The matter is between the two fund houses concerned. Amfi is an association of members; this is not an Amfi-related matter. It’s between the two fund houses and registrar of companies."
The Registrar of Companies' final order on the case is pending.