Shark Tank India participant accuses Sony of misleading tactics regarding social media usage regulations

Pathik Patel, Founder of Fit & Flex, sends legal notice to Sony, alleging that they have pressured participants into signing agreements with limited review time for T&Cs before entering the stage

Khushi Keswani
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New Delhi: Shark Tank India participant Pathik Patel has sent a legal notice to Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) demanding the removal of their social media pages and posts.

The act was apparently a result of the participants violating trademark regulations, but as per Patel, they weren’t aware of these regulations in the first place. 

“They take our signature on a page, which is not a legal page, but it's a piece of paper, something printed, just before 10–15 minutes when we enter the tank, and they don't give us the copy. And when you go inside, at that time, I'm sure that every founder will be nervous, right? And no one has the time to read 10 pages of documents,” he explained when asked about signing T&C agreements mentioning the relevant regulations.

Patel, founder of Fit & Flex (Season 3), accused Sony of misleading founders about social media usage rights. He contested Sony's selective enforcement of intellectual property (IP) claims. 

He said, “Everyone uses clips, including the sharks." Sony should have a clear communication process. A warning and takedown request is standard practice, not a sudden account suspension.”

This isn't an isolated incident. While the legal notice was sent by Patel, he said there were 50+ businesses affected by the same (participants in seasons 2 and 3). 

He said, "On April 7, everything was down. Within three days, this founder (unnamed) got this connection with the Sony team. She emailed them 3–4 times. They started communicating. Even Sony was replying. They again sent a legal document to sign. The founder went to a lawyer, and through the lawyer, they asked Sony to remove some words. Sony denied the same, emphasising that the only way to go about this was for them to sign the documents. After which they 'will think’, ‘will think?!’.” 

Patel prioritises dialogue with Sony. He detailed attempts to reach the legal team via email and group efforts, but claimed Sony has been unresponsive.

“Sony is harassing participants by withholding communication and not offering clear solutions.” 

The legal notice served on May 30, followed by a LinkedIn post on Patel’s profile, reportedly prompted a response from Sony, suggesting a potential shift. 

“We are willing to sign any document they send us,” he said, emphasising a desire to resolve the issue swiftly. 

Interestingly, Patel observed that the problems seem more prevalent for participants from Seasons 2 and 3, potentially due to AI-based content moderation. He highlighted the inconsistency of Sony's approach, pointing out that even the Sharks (investors) use show clips for promotion.

“We don’t plan to take the legal route and resolve this amicably. We won’t drag the matter to court because we understand our businesses would be gravely impacted. I am already facing a loss of about 10x while the show was expected to fetch me 7x gains.” 

But Patel agreed to not have any other alternative given Sony’s lack of response and continued harassment of Shark Tank participants’ businesses.

Sony social media business Shark Tank