There’s a new turn in the BharatPe-PhonePe trademark tussle. After seemingly winning the battle in English language usage of the ‘pe’ suffix, BharatPe’s buy now pay later offering postpe on Tuesday filed six cancellation actions against multiple registrations held by rival service PhonePe of the ‘Pe’ mark in the Devanagari script, before the Intellectual Property Division of the Delhi High Court.
This marks a new chapter in a copyright-related battle that BharatPe and PhonePe have fought since 2019, with the most recent action being PhonePe filing and later withdrawing a copyright plea against postpe at the Bombay High Court. Entrackr was the first to report about it.
“Purity of the trademarks register is in the larger interest of the public at large. By taking on a trade mark for the ‘PE’ device mark in Devanagari Script in classes relating to payment services in a country like India, where Hindi is the primary language of the masses, PhonePe has acted against the larger public interest, and Resilient (Resilient Innovations Pvt Limited, BharatPe’s Holding Firm) is committed to undoing this,” a BharatPe spokesperson said in a statement.
PhonePe declined to comment on Entrackr’s queries.
BharatPe had launched postpe earlier this month, marking the company’s foray into the currently hot BNPL segment. As part of its offering, postpe users can avail interest-free credit of upto Rs 10 lakh, and with the service, BharatPe is looking to facilitate a loan book of $300 million on postpe in the first 12 months.
In September 2019, PhonePe had dragged BharatPe to the Delhi High Court over the use of the suffix ‘Pe’. In April this year, the court rejected PhonePe’s plea to issue an injunction order against BharatPe, noting that the former’s claim that the ‘Pe’ suffix in its trademark had acquired distinctiveness to the extent that consumers would invariably associate ‘Pe’ with the company was a “matter of trial”.
PhonePe appealed the Delhi High Court’s order only to withdraw it later.
“Even though both the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court have prima facie found PhonePe’s assertion to be incorrect, Resilient has filed these cancellation actions so as to provide a level-playing field to all stakeholders in the digital payment space once and for all,” the BharatPe spokesperson added.
The company also said that it was taking this action because even though it may have the resources to stave off PhonePe’s challenges, “the ‘emerging entrepreneur’ may succumb to such pressure”.
Entrackr was also the first to report that insuretech startup BimaPe, which recently rebranded itself as Verak also faced legal challenges from a fintech company over using the suffix Pe, which was a key reason behind the rebranding.