Sentia, a Sydney-based IT development company founded in 2006, says its brand was hurt when the media intelligence company formerly known as Media Monitors last year rebranded itself to iSentia.
Sentia chief executive Michael Cindric told SmartCompany the confusion between the brands has had a huge impact on his business and has potentially lost it clients and referrals.
As iSentia prepares to launch its initial public offering, Cindric says he believes the IPO will give iSentia more ability to “flood the market with their brand” and “heavily dilute” Sentia’s existing and pre-dating brand.
He is currently attempting to block the trademark request for the name iSentia with IP Australia because he believes the media giant has begun moving into the IT development sector.
Cindric says when the media intelligence company originally changed its name, first to Sentia Media in 2012 and then to iSentia in March 2013, he believed the companies could co-exist because they were in different markets.
“I thought as long as they’re not in our market, I don’t see a problem. I didn’t think there was any potential issue, because I thought they did something totally different, I had no idea what they were moving towards,” he says.
But Cindric believes iSentia is now offering similar services and encroaching on the IT development market.
“They are looking for development in iPhones and that sort of thing,” he says. “They claim they are in a different market from us, but the consumer doesn’t draw such a fine line.”
However, iSentia said in a statement to SmartCompany it is committed to “work[ing] positively through the proper channels to resolve this issue for both parties”.
“iSentia received professional advice from our IP lawyers that we were on solid ground to move from Sentia Media to iSentia,” said the company.
Cindric says days after Media Monitors changed its name to Sentia Media in 2012, chief executive John Croll contacted him with an offer of $50,000 to buy the rights to Sentia.
“It was a bit of naivety on my part, we didn’t object to Sentia Media at the time because I assumed that IP Australia wouldn’t allow for too much conflict,” he says.
But Cindric says when the company rebranded again to iSentia, it continued to cause market confusion and Sentia then lodged its opposition to the “iSentia” trademark.
He says iSentia suggested a co-existence agreement but those discussions broke down over his request for an extension to the opposition submission deadline.
“Since we were in the process of working things out, we didn’t want to get caught with not submitting our opposition should the talks break down. The only instruction we got back from their lawyers was that they received no instruction on the extension,” he says.
Cindric says iSentia has now put in an opposition to his trademark request for “Sentia” on the grounds there is a conflict between the two companies, a stance he says the company had originally used as a defence in its original rebranding.