The Bombay High Court has declared that PhonePe cannot demand exclusivity over the mark ‘Pe’ in its suit against BharatPe’s method of the suffix for its Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform PostPe. In the order copy that Moneycontrol saw, the court recorded that PhonePe has no certification of ‘Pe’ independently.
“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 continued that the usage of ‘Pe’ cannot be assessed separately as per law and that the terms PhonePe and PostPe must be examined as a whole. PhonePe was commanded to withdraw the suit and file a fresh case to claim exclusivity over the word PhonePe as a whole.
PhonePe in a statement on October 22, had stated that it had requested the Bombay HC and reversed the injunction later to address specific notes made by the court. The had company continued that it plans to follow up by filing a new suit. In reply to the court’s written order, BharatPe said that PhonePe has given up its call for exclusivity over the word ‘Pe’ by consent by withdrawing the suit.
“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 moreover said that it aims to appeal the alleged ‘misconduct’ by PhonePe to the court’s attention.
“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, PhonePe also submitted the Delhi HC against the competitor for using the suffix, inquiring a similar directive. In April this year, the Delhi High Court rejected PhonePe’s plea while noting that BharatPe did not infringe the trademark.
PhonePe withdrew the injunction plea and moved Delhi HC for a full-fledged trial against BharatPe, which is continuing, apart from the new dispute in the Bombay HC.