In business as in life, friends and partners can grow apart over time as one or both parties change. And in both instances, success can play no small part in shifting the nature of those relationships, particularly if one party experiences far more of it than the other.
Take Zoom, for instance. Once a product that some portion of the business world was passingly familiar with, Zoom is now a by-word for video conferences or virtual meetings that have been a necessity over the past year, and as many businesses now see the value in eliminating unnecessary travel and in-person meetings, it’s a safe bet that Zoom’s stock will remain high in every sense even after the population has been vaccinated en masse. And given that rapid rise, it’s not surprising to see that preexisting relationships Zoom had might begin to strain.
To wit, Zoom is now taking action against a years-long partner over alleged trademark infringement, accusing RingCentral of using Zoom’s now-weighty brand name to attempt something of a bait-and-switch. Per Zoom’s allegations in the lawsuit, RingCentral is prominently featuring its Ringcentral Meetings product in marketing and sales pushes, which is Zoom’s product repackaged and branded with the “Powered By Zoom” language as per a partnership agreement. Upon getting customers into a contract, however, Zoom alleges that RingCentral then promises a move away from its Zoom-based product to their own version of video meeting software.
In this, RingCentral would appear to want to have its cake and eat it too, if allegations are to be believed; to benefit from the brand name and reputation of Zoom to bring in enough customers to fuel their own drive to build a competing product. Given all that, it’s not surprising that Zoom would be upset about the efforts, enough so to pursue a legal option to get RingCentral to, if not stop creating their own product, at least take Zoom’s name off of any misleading marketing.
It’s certainly not a unique problem to arise between businesses, but perhaps striking given the sudden disparity between the one-time (and now seemingly no more) partners. Given Zoom’s current status, it seems akin to Coca-Cola being repackaged and sold in RC Cola bottles just prior to its global dominance. (No disrespect to RC Cola.) It’s a problem that Zoom and others encounter, but not necessarily the worst one to have; after all, if you have people trying to misappropriate your global brand, it means you have a global brand.