New Delhi: Harish Salve, lawyer for Financial Times Ltd, UK, provided written replies to five questions that were raised.
What, according to you, are the main reasons why Times Publishing House (TPH) has been in litigation with Financial Times Ltd (FTL) for over 19 years now?
The reason is fairly obvious. They (meaning TPH) have successfully prevented Financial Times from launching a facsimile edition (in India) and the only reason for that can be to prevent competition. I suppose their concern could also be that once the name is established in India, it may be a matter of time before an Indian version of the newspaper is put in the market.
If indeed it is correct that prior to the publication of the supplement titled ‘Financial Times’, The Times Group had entered into syndication arrangements with FTL and, in fact, knew of the UK-based newspaper and its international repute, what were the reasons for TPH adopting the same title under the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act and for registering the same title with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)?
The reason for this also is fairly obvious. It would strain credulity if it was ever suggested that a publishing house of the size and stature of Times Publishing would not be aware of the global reputation of FT. Even under the law of trademarks, global reputations are protected. In the face of this, the adoption of the same title can fairly be presumed to be with the intention to use the reputation of FT in their own publications.
In April 2012, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) recognized that the trademark ‘Financial Times’ is distinctive of FTL. What will be the likely impact of this decision on the legal proceedings that are currently pending?
The IPAB upheld the almost self-evident proposition that the trademark ‘Financial Times’ is distinctive of FTL, but declined relief on the grounds that FT could not prove (that it was the) user from the year it had asserted… Instead, the evidence only suggested (it was the) user a few years later. It (the IPAB) overlooked that even if the latter was true, nonetheless it was much before a similar title was put to use in India by TPH. This matter is pending in the high court.
Since the ‘Financial Times’ supplement published by FTL differs in terms of price and target readership from the ‘Financial Times’ published by FTL, what are the reasons for TPH apparently resisting or attacking any initiative by FTL to enter the Indian market, whether through the publication of a facsimile edition or through syndication arrangement?
The general opposition by TPH to the entry of the Financial Times (of the UK) into India is to ensure that there is no usage of the trademark in India by FTL—the concern possibly being that once FT enters India in any form, it is the beginning of the end of their so far successful endeavour of keeping competition at bay.
By opposing FTL in various courts of law in the country, do you believe TPH and The Times Group can hope to gain commercially or politically?
I have no doubt in my mind that their opposition stems not from any great principle but from some perception of gain—politically or commercially or both.
Do you believe TPH is “squatting” on the ‘Financial Times’ title in order to satisfy certain regulations of the RNI, that its litigation is vexatious and that it is undermining initiatives to make the Indian media more plural by allowing foreign titles market access?
While I would like to add a caveat that I have been appearing for FT, with all the objectivity at my command, it is my perception that the litigation is contrived and yet another example of how clever “lawyering” can use Indian courts with their attendant delays to great advantage.
It is for this reason that getting caught in the Indian legal system has been always a nightmare for foreign investors.