Advocates and IP Attorneys


PhonePe     Vs    BharatPe

Battle and arguments since the year 2018 between the two leading digital payment companies, PhonePe and BharatPe is not something which people are unaware of. However, the same has been recently in the limelight. The clash between the two was over the term “Pe” suffix. Lately, PhonePe (Plaintiff) which is a part of the Walmart stable filed a lawsuit against BharatPe, owned by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) wherein it has claimed exclusive ad prior rights over the term “Pe”. Additionally, PhonePe has alleged that the term “Pe” has been blatantly used both in English and Hindi with similar graphic representation in BharatPe logo also which amounts to infringement and passing off the services of PhonePe by BharatPe and has thus sought an injunction order against BharatPe.

The Delhi High Court in order to analyse the entire situation pointed out Section 17 (1) of the Trade Marks Act 1999 which clearly states “When a trade mark consists of several matters, its registration shall confer on the proprietor exclusive right to the use of the trade mark as a whole.” Further, the Hon’ble Court relied upon Section 17(2) of the Trademark Act, 1999 which says that rights in a label/composite mark are restricted to the mark registered as a whole and not to individual components of the mark, that too when the component in question is a common word.

The Delhi High Court held that both the logos of the two Fintech companies are composite label marks which are entirely different from one another when viewed in entirety and the term “Pe” or PAY” whichever it is, is a generic and descriptive term with no exclusive rights over the same. Further, The Hon’ble Court added that there is a difference between the services provided by both platforms. While PhonePe provides a digital payments and commerce platform that is largely reliant on UPI, BharatPe offers a QR code payments system for merchants using any UPI app. 

The court, therefore, did not find a prima facie case to have been made out of, and refused to grant a temporary injunction. 

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