PhonePe Trademark Suit: Madras HC Temporarily Restrains MobilePe from Offering UPI, BHIM Services

Phonepe Law Insider

Tanisha Rana

Published on: October 26, 2022 at 20:42 IST

Following a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by PhonePe, the Madras High Court temporarily restrained digital payment app MobilePe and its group companies from providing Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) services.

The two apps’ logos were identical, and Justice M. Sundar found that a prima facie case of “possible deception” had been established in an interim order issued on October 19.

The court avoided comparing the two brands side by side by citing an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court in Parle Products (P) Ltd vs. JP & Co.

Instead, it said that a person of “average intelligence” would recognise the similarities between the emblems of PhonePe and MobilePe if they were to put themselves in their shoes.

“This Commercial Division compared the two marks by applying the Parle principle being ratio laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court, i.e., avoiding side by side comparison, stepping into the shoes of a man of average intelligence with ordinary prudence and imperfect recollection. A prima facie case qua possible deception has been made out,” the order stated.

In order to remove the MobilePe app’s listing from the Google Play Store and the App Store, respectively, it also sent notices to Google and Apple.

Senior Advocate PS Raman, who represented PhonePe at the hearings, informed the court that his client was the “registrant” or “proprietor” of the PhonePe trademark.

In addition, it was claimed that PhonePe had sent MobilePe a cease and desist notice in June of this year.

Subsequently, several notices were sent back and forth between the two parties, and it was presumed that MobilePe would not proceed with its trademark registration application.

On August 29 of this year, PhonePe learned that MobilePe’s trade registration application had been approved by the authorities; as a result, PhonePe petitioned the High Court.

According to the Court, a case for urgent interim relief within the meaning of Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act was prima facie made out in light of the aforementioned submissions.

However, it also stated that MobilePe’s rights as well as those of the other defendants included in the lawsuit were safeguarded with regard to raising objections.

Additionally, it stated that MobilePe may continue to engage in business operations or activities such as wallet recharge, except those involving UPI and BHIM services.

“Therefore, prima facie case, balance of convenience and irreparable legal injury parameters have impelled this Commercial Division to grant this limited order of status quo as of today.”

“For the purpose of specificity, it is made clear that the defendants 1 to 6 can continue with all other business activities which they are carrying on as of today with the aforementioned competing marks which can be broadly referred to as wallet recharge unhindered by this interim order of status quo,” the order stated.

However, Justice Sundar made it clear that this was only a prima facie view that might be contested.

Advocates H Siddarth and P Giridharan appeared for PhonePe along with Raman.

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