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Bombay HC: PhonePe cannot claim exclusivity over ‘Pe’, in tussle with BharatPe

The court said that the usage of ‘Pe’ cannot be judged independently as per law

October 25, 2021 / 07:10 PM IST
PhonePe has been asked to stake claim on the entire name, and not a portion of it (Source: ShutterStock)

PhonePe has been asked to stake claim on the entire name, and not a portion of it (Source: ShutterStock)

The Bombay High Court has said that PhonePe cannot claim exclusivity over the mark ‘Pe’ in its suit against BharatPe’s usage of the suffix for its Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform PostPe.

In the order copy which was seen by Moneycontrol, the court noted that PhonePe has no registration of the term ‘Pe’ separately.

“PhonePe claims that ‘Phone’ is not unique or distinctive and that the word Pe is distinctive, and is a central, leading and memorable feature. It then claims that the Defendants’ (BharatPe) use of Pe is an infringement,” the order read.

The court added that the usage of ‘Pe’ cannot be judged independently as per law, and that the terms PhonePe and PostPe must be compared as a whole. PhonePe was ordered to withdraw the suit and file a fresh suit to claim exclusivity over the word PhonePe as a whole.

PhonePe in a statement on October 22 had said that it had approached the Bombay HC and withdrew the injunction later to address certain observations made by the Court. The had company added that it intends to follow up by filing a fresh suit.

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Claim over 'Pe' no more

In response to the court’s written order, BharatPe said that by withdrawing the suit PhonePe has given up its claim for exclusivity over the word 'Pe' by consent.

“We were rather surprised by the statements made by spokespersons of PhonePe on October 22 which did not reflect the correct outcome of the proceedings in Court. We had earlier refrained from commenting on the order of the Bombay High Court because the actual wording of the actual order would demonstrate how misleading PhonePe’s earlier statements to the press were,” the statement read.

BharatPe has further said that it intends to bring the alleged ‘misconduct’ by PhonePe to the attention of the court.

“We will continue to take all legal remedies in law, not only to defend ourselves against any ill-conceived actions taken by PhonePe, but also to protect our rights in law,” added BharatPe.

In September 2019 too, PhonePe had moved the Delhi HC against the competitor for using the suffix, seeking a similar injunction. In April this year, the Delhi High Court dismissed PhonePe’s plea while observing that BharatPe was not in violation of the trademark.

PhonePe withdrew the injunction plea later and moved Delhi HC for a full-fledged trial against BharatPe which is currently ongoing, apart from the fresh dispute in the Bombay HC.
Priyanka Iyer
first published: Oct 25, 2021 07:10 pm

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