Ola, the largest ride-hailing app in India, might find it tough going in Sri Lanka after a local competitor accused the Indian firm of illegally stealing confidential business information, according to a report from Business Standard.
Executives from the Sri Lankan ride-sharing service PickMe, who currently boast the country’s most popular app of its kind, leveled the formal complaint of “commercial espionage” that will require top Ola officials to go before court on Feb. 26 in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.
The criminal action cites the violation of Sri Lanka’s Intellectual Property Act, according to local daily FT, as PickMe executives accuse Ola representatives of stealing “valuable and confidential” information in the company’s possession.
The accused parties listed in the criminal complaint are ANI Technologies Lanka Ltd., which is a subsidiary of the company that owns Ola, and its directors – Karan Veer Singh Shekhawat and Nimish Joshi – as well as operations manager Murali Barath, according to FT.
An Ola spokesperson responded to the accusation in a statement Business Standard, telling the news site that the claims are “absolutely frivolous.”
Ola has received significant funding from SoftBank, the massive Japanese telecom firm that has invested in the other major ride-sharing companies like Uber, Malaysia’s Grab, and China’s Didi. Business Standard reported that the company has raised more than $1 billion from all investors in the past year and a half.
The transportation company has clearly begun 2018 with a concentrated effort in spreading beyond India’s borders. In January, the company announced it has started hiring drivers in Australia where it will try to find space in an Aussie market that is currently dominated by Uber.
Ola’s journey into new Pacific markets follows major global decisions by fellow Softbank investees. Didi’s leap into Latin America saw it buy the Brazilian cab service 99, and Softbank has reportedly directed Uber to stick with its traditional markets in the U.S. and Europe.