Home / Companies / News /  Who owns ‘Pe’? HC dismisses PhonePe’s exclusivity on suffix

Bengaluru: The Delhi high court has dismissed an interim injunction plea by Bengaluru-based payments firm PhonePe against rival BharatPe on using the ‘Pe’ suffix.

According to the court order, passed on 15 April, there is insufficient evidence to conclusively say that the ‘Pe’ suffix would be “indelibly associated" in the public consciousness with PhonePe’s services.

“Barring the common ‘Pe’ suffix, it cannot be said that the ‘PhonePe’ trademark of the plaintiff and the ‘BharatPe’ trademark of the defendant are confusingly or deceptively similar. As words, they are entirely different, except for the ‘Pe’ suffix. ‘Phone’ and ‘Bharat’ are not even phonetically similar," the order said.

The case was heard by a single bench of C. Hari Shankar. Mint has seen a copy of the court order on the matter.

In September 2019, PhonePe had sought an injunction lawsuit at the HC against BharatPe over the use of ‘Pe’ in its brand and app names. However, both firms have been arguing against the use of ‘Pe’ since 2018, even before the official lawsuit.

A BharatPe spokesperson declined to comment.

“The case is still sub-judice before the Delhi HC. This order only relates to our application for temporary injunction in an ongoing trademark dispute pertaining to use of the mark ‘Pe’. PhonePe will continue to pursue this trial to defend its popular and dominant brand positioning and take necessary steps to prevent any misuse of its mark," said a PhonePe spokesperson replying to Mint’s queries.

The counsel for PhonePe argued that the company was the prior adopter of the ‘PhonePe’ trademark and its variants, with ‘Pe’ being an “essential, dominant and distinguishing feature" of the payment platform’s registered trademark identity.

“A consumer of average intelligence and imperfect recollection, on seeing the defendants’ mark ‘BharatPe’ would notice, particularly, the ‘Pe’ suffix. The use of the ‘Pe’ suffix by the defendants is bound to result, in the mind of such a consumer, of an impression of association/connection/nexus of the services provided under such mark, with the plaintiff (PhonePe)," argued the legal counsel.

PhonePe accused BharatPe of copying the former’s distinctive and essential ‘Pe’ mark to create initial confusion in the mind of the consumer.

And with services of both firms being similar, the infringement would result in irreparable financial loss to PhonePe, the counsel argued.

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