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Exclusive: PhonePe files and withdraws copyright plea against BharatPe’s postpe


PhonePe is yet again unhappy with another ‘Pe’ suffixed fintech product from one of its rivals, this time in the shape of BharatPe’s recently announced buy now pay later (BNPL) platform postpe. 

The Walmart-backed company filed a petition in the Bombay High Court alleging that postpe’s suffix is a violation of PhonePe’s trademark, sources directly aware of the matter told Entrackr. However, according to these sources, the company has already withdrawn its petition.

“PhonePe withdrew the case to file a fresh petition sometime next week,” said one of the sources requesting anonymity.  

In response to a detailed query, a PhonePe spokesperson confirmed the development to Entrackr.

“During the hearing, the Hon’ble Court observed that the mark PostPe adopted by Resilient Innovations is so phonetically, structurally and visually similar to PhonePe mark that he also thought that PostPe/postpe is a natural evolution of the word PhonePe and emanated from PhonePe,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that to address certain observations made by the court, it withdrew its plea but will file a fresh suit soon.

This would be PhonePe’s second copyright-related challenge against BharatPe. This fresh petition was filed on October 20, where PhonePe is being represented by lawyers from J Sagar Associates. 

A BharatPe spokesperson said that the company did not wish to comment on the proceedings of the matters, however, it will “continue to strongly defend any legal action that PhonePe threatens to institute against us”.

“What is important to note is that in the Bombay High Court yesterday, PhonePe turned turtle as regards it’s previous stand before the Delhi High Court of emphasising on its so-called inventive word ‘Pe’,” the spokesperson added.

According to the details present on the high court website, PhonePe is invoking the Copyright Act and the Trade and Trade Merchandise Marks Act against Resilient Innovations, the parent company of BharatPe. 

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. 

According to Entrackr’s sources, 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. However, Entrackr couldn’t ascertain which company the legal challenge came from. 

Indian startups haven’t shied away from taking legal action against competitors over alleged trademark infringements. In February, BigBasket had sent a cease and desist letter to a small Coimbatore-based startup DailyBasket over the use of the term ‘Basket’ in the latter’s name. 

In the past, firms like Flipkart and EaseMyTrip have been dragged to court either for running a private label or for offering products with a similar brand name to others.

Update: The story was updated with PhonePe and BharatPe’s statement.

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