PhonePe and BharatPe resolve trademark dispute through out-of-court settlement: Delhi High Court told

BharatPe and PhonePe have settled their trademark infringement dispute through an out-of-court settlement, the Delhi High Court was informed on 29th May, 2024.

This comes after a long-drawn legal dispute across multiple courts over the last 5 years. The settlement will put an end to all open judicial proceedings and the companies have withdrawn all oppositions against each other in the trademark registry.

Both organisations will also carry out other necessary steps to comply with the obligations under the settlement agreement with respect to all cases before the Delhi and Bombay High Courts.

The Background

  • In August 2018,  PhonePe had issued a  cease and desist notice, calling upon BharatPe to stop using the trademark name ‘BharatPe’, with ‘Pe’ written in Devanagari Hindi script. In response to this BharatPe agreed to stop using ‘BharatPe’ with ‘Pe’ in Devanagari and gave up use of the same. Thereafter, the defendant started using the mark ‘BharatPe’ only for its services.
  • In 2019, PhonePe filed a suit against BharatPe in the Delhi High Court alleging that by using the trademark ‘BharatPe’, the company had infringed upon the registered trademark of ‘PhonePe’.
  • In October of 2021, BharatPe parent Resilient Innovations Pvt. Ltd had filed six petitions seeking cancellation of registrations held by PhonePe Pvt. Ltd, for the ‘Pe’ logo in Devanagari before the IP division of the high court.
  • In 2021, PhonePe filed a Commercial IP Suit against BharatPe for registration of the trademark ‘PostPe, and ‘postpe’ in various classes. PhonePe argued that BharatPe was trying to claim some sort of exclusivity or distinctiveness in part of its mark i.e. ‘pe’.
  • In April 2023, the Bombay High Court dismissed the interim injunction application filed by PhonePe against BharatPe’s Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) arm PostPe, for restraining the use of the brand name ‘PostPe, “which was identical or similar to PhonePe’s trademarks.

Whose Butter Chicken is it? Moti Mahal moves Delhi High Court for cancellation of Daryaganj’s trademark

The dispute over the invention of Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani took a new turn, when on 27th May, 2024, Moti Mahal restaurant filed a plea before the Delhi High Court for cancellation of Daryaganj restaurant chain’s trademark [Rupa Gujral & Ors v Raghav Jaggi].

Moti Mahal challenged the registration of the trademark “DARYAGANJ: BY THE INVENTORS OF BUTTER CHICKEN & DAL MAKHANI” in favor of Daryaganj Restaurant

The same was granted in favor of Daryaganj on March 14, 2018 on the basis of ‘proposal for use’.

Moti Mahal has been using the tagline “Inventors of Original Dal Makhani, Tandoori Chicken and Butter Chicken” since 2005 and the Daryaganj branding is a false claim.

“The mark is practically identical to the applicants’ earlier and well-known slogan, with just the addition of the word ‘DARYAGANJ’ above, which is in no way distinctive and does not fade from the earlier slogan and indeed known to the petitioners, which was invented and used exclusively by the petitioners since 2005 and the petitioners continue to use it even to this day, “ the lawsuit argued.

In April 2023, Moti Mahal applied for registration of a device mark in which it claimed to be the original inventor of Dal Makhani, Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken. The application is pending before the trademark register.

Earlier, Moti Mahal had also separately filed a civil suit against Daryaganj for using the slogan ‘Inventors of Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani’. Moti Mahal claimed that the Daryaganj restaurant was “misleading people into believing” that there was a relationship between the Daryaganj restaurants and Moti Mahal whose first branch was opened in the neighbourhood from Daryaganj to Delhi.

Daryaganj opposed the plea and argued that they had not made any false statements and the allegations made in the suit were far from the truth. They said the first Moti Mahal restaurant was jointly established by the predecessors of both parties (Gujral of Moti Mahal Restaurants and Jaggi of Daryaganj Restaurants) in Peshawar.

Delhi High Court orders blocking of websites with false articles on Anant Ambani interview with Anand Narasimhan

The Delhi High Court recently ordered the blocking of rogue websites containing false articles about an interview between Reliance Industries Director Anant Ambani and TV18 journalist Anand Narasimhan [Network 18 Media and Investments Limited & Ors v WWW.BrawlersFightClub.Com & Ors].

In an order passed on May 28, Justice Sanjeev Narula ordered Meta and X to block/remove the Facebook posts and tweets about the interview.

Both the social media companies have been asked to file in sealed cover the complete details of the users who made the posts.

The Court passed the order after CNBC TV18 and Narasimhan moved the High Court seeking the takedown of eight rogue websites containing a false article titled ‘CNBC-TV18 management refuses to comment on the scandal surrounding its interview Vantara (star of the forest)’.

Narasimhan had done an interview with Anant Ambani and the same was published on CNBC TV18’s YouTube channel. In the interview, Ambani talked about his various projects and his love for wildlife.

However, the rogue websites published a fake and made-up interview. To lend it credibility, it was presented as if the BBC had published the piece.

The article redirected to a cryptocurrency trading platform called Everix Edge, claiming that it helps in earning a passive income and offering astronomical returns.

In the fake interview, Ambani allegedly claims that anyone can make money through passive income on the platform. The article quotes Ambani as claiming that anyone can register with Everix Edge with a minimum deposit of ₹26,000 and transform this amount into₹10,00,000, yielding a 4,000% return within a few months.

CNBC TV18 argued that these rogue websites are infringing on its trademarks, violating the copyright of the interview, and even violating the personality rights of Narasimhan.

The Court agreed with the argument and ordered the blocking of the websites.

Read order here.

Meta blocked Chinese fake accounts on Facebook, Instagram, fueling Khalistani extremism in India

The parent company of Facebook and Instagram has exposed a network of social media accounts based in China, responsible for “inauthentic behaviour” targeting India. This operation focused on the global Sikh community and attempted to influence the debate around the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

The network was responsible for creating 37 Facebook accounts, 13 pages, five groups, and nine Instagram accounts, all in violation of Meta’s policies. The network, known as “Operation K,” operated under the guise of a fictitious activist movement and aimed to incite pro-Sikh protests, particularly in New Zealand and Australia.

“We removed 37 Facebook accounts, 13 Pages, five Groups, and nine accounts on Instagram for violating our policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour. This network originated in China and targeted the global Sikh community, including in Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, the UK, and Nigeria,” according to the company’s latest Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report.

“This activity– targeted at multiple services, including ours, Telegram and X (former Twitter) included several clusters of fake accounts, including one with links to an unattributed CIB network from China targeting India and the Tibet region that we disrupted in early 2023. Some of these clusters amplified one another with most of their engagement coming from their own fake accounts, likely to make this campaign appear more popular than it was,” the report added.

The network attempted to manipulate news and current events, including images that were likely altered using photo editing tools or generated by artificial intelligence. Topics of discussion included floods in the Punjab region, the Sikh community worldwide, the Khalistan movement, and criticism of the Indian government.

Moreover, the network amplified its own content by using fake accounts to garner engagement, thereby creating a false impression of popularity. However, Meta’s automated systems detected and disabled several compromised and fake accounts associated with this network. It thwarted the network’s attempts to gain traction and prevent the spread of misinformation.

Cricketer Yuvraj Singh Invokes Arbitration Against Developer Over Personality Rights Violation, Possession Of Apartment

Cricketer Yuvraj Singh has invoked arbitration against a developer over alleged violation of his privacy rights while promoting a real estate project and failure to adhere to the timeline for delivery of possession of an apartment in the project in the national capital.

Singh has sent two notices invoking arbitration to the developer M/s Brilliant Etoile Private Limited.

In the notice concerning his privacy violation, Singh has said that the developer has misused his brand value and contravened the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding entered between the parties on November 24, 2020. As per the MoU, Singh was to promote and endorse the project in question. The MoU expired on November 23 last year.

Singh is aggrieved by the alleged continued commercial use of the services provided by him, including the use of his photographs on billboards, project site, social media posts, articles etc. despite expiry of the MoU. This, as per the cricketer, is in complete violation of his Copyright, Personality Rights, Right to Publicity enshrined under the laws and protected as his Intellectual Property Rights.

The second notice concerning possession of a flat in the project states that the developer has failed to adhere to the timeline and schedule of delivery and thus acted in contravention of the Agreement to Sale. Singh has further alleged that the developer compromised on the quality of the material used in the apartment and downgraded the quality of fittings, furnishings, lighting and finishing.

IAMAI view on draft Digital Law not shared by all constituents: four members tell MCA

Four members of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, expressing divergent views from the association’s recent submission opposing ex-ante regulation proposed in the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB).

The companies — Bharat Matrimony, Match Group, Hoichoi and ShareChat — said the industry body’s submission was not reflective of the entire digital startup ecosystem or IAMAI’s diverse membership of over 540 companies, and urged the ministry to proceed with ex-ante regulations at the earliest to curb what they deemed the anti-competitive practices of Big Tech companies.

Ex-ante regulations are pre-emptive measures that aim to disallow or discourage certain practices. The current competition law, the Competition Act (2002), works on an ex-post framework where the Competition Commission of India (CCI) intervenes after an anti-competitive act has occurred.

The Committee on Digital Competition Law published its report in March this year outlining the challenges associated with anti-competitive practices of digital enterprises, such as anti-steering, self-preferencing, tying and bundling in the digital markets in India. The report proposed a Digital Competition Bill to further regulate large digital enterprises, including news aggregators, as part of efforts to ensure a level playing field and fair competition in the digital space. The draft Bill proposes ex-ante competition regulations for Big Tech players such as Amazon and Meta.

The report was open for public consultation and the last date for submission of comments was May 15. The industry association had submitted its comments on the report opposing the proposed ex-ante regulations.

However, these four companies said the contentions opposing the ex-ante provisions overlooked the fundamental reality driving discussions about ex-ante regulation both domestically and internationally.

Court junks copyright suit for cryogenic tank design

A court has dismissed a six-year-old suit over copyright infringement filed by Inox India Pvt Ltd, which accused two companies of copying the design of its cryogenic storage tank, observing that the Designs Act grants higher protection to pure original artistic works and lesser to those commercial in nature.

Inox had sued Cryogas Equipment Pvt Ltd (CEPL) and LNG Express India Pvt Ltd (LEIPL) in 2018 under The Copyright Act, 1957 alleging that that they developed the design of a cryogenic storage tank and distribution system for which the company had done research and development.

Inox said in the complaint that it was the creator of the drawings of cryogenic storage tanks and distribution system and that it is the sole and exclusive copyright owner of the proprietary engineering drawings.

The commercial court observed that the Designs Act intends to grant higher protection to pure original artistic works such as paintings and sculptures and less to design activity which is commercial in nature. The company argued that the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PSEO) had approved the drawings in n 2013.

In 2018, Inox learnt that CEPL and LEIPL were venturing into the manufacturing and selling of cryogenic semi-trailers. Inox argued in its suit that the companies copied their entire drawing and they had hired Inox’s two former employees who are also defendants in the case. Inox claimed that through the former employees, CEPL and LEIPL obtained technical know-how, quality procedures and proprietary engineering drawings of the plaintiff.

CEPL, however, countered the claims saying that the drawings were fundamentally created based on the codes and standards which are followed by every designer and manufacturer of tanks. CEIPL said that its drawings were different, distinct and specially created through their investment.

The other defendant, LEIPL contended that the suit of industrial drawings falls under the Classification of the Design Act and not under the Section 14 Copyright Act and the suit should be barred.

Supreme Court sides with music producer in copyright case over Flo Rida hit

The US Supreme Court has sided with a music producer in a copyright case, allowing him to seek more than a decade’s worth of damages over a sample used in a hit Flo Rida song. The 6-3 decision came in a case filed by Sherman Nealy, who was suing over music used in the 2008 song “In the Ayer,” by the rapper Flo Rida. It also was featured on TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Nealy said he didn’t find out his former collaborator had inked a deal with a record company that allowed the sampling until 2016. He sued two years later for damages going back to the song’s release.

Copyright law states that suits must be filed within three years of the violation, or the point when it’s discovered. The record company, Warner Chappell, argued that means Mr Nealy would only be entitled to three years’ worth of royalties at most.

The question of how far back damages can go has split appeals courts, and it’s one that industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America called on the Supreme Court to decide.

The majority opinion handed down 30th May, 2024 held that there is no time limit on monetary recovery. So a copyright owner possessing a timely claim is entitled to damages for infringement, no matter when the infringement occurred.

Tesla Inc Vs Tesla Power Case: Gurgaon company removes logo from e-scooters

Elon Musk-led Tesla Inc had alleged that Tesla Power (Gurugram based entity) was selling e-scooters with the Tesla logo despite a court undertaking on 2 May that it will not sell anything related to EVs. Tesla Inc. had claimed that the Indian company had violated the court’s order.

On 28 Maythe bench of Justice Anish Dayal sought an affidavit detailing the number of electric scooters sold and the current stocks available, along with the names of dealers.

The court had issued a notice in response to Tesla Inc’s plea and restrained Tesla Power from publishing any advertisements featuring electric-vehicle (EV) products with a trademark similar to Tesla’s. It also instructed Tesla Power to reply to the allegations.

The American EV giant in its lawsuit argued that Tesla Power’s use of the trademark in India was causing confusion among consumers and potentially harming its business interests.

It claimed Tesla Power not only had a similar trademark but also advertised itself as an EV company in newspapers. It said consumers were mistakenly buying Tesla Power batteries, assuming they are associated with the US company, and sending complaints to Tesla Inc.

Tesla Power argued that it was not manufacturing EV batteries, but rather selling lead-acid batteries used in conventional vehicles and inverters. At the previous hearing, its chairman Kavinder Khurana personally pleaded in court that the company had no plans to enter the EV market.

He clarified that the advertisement featuring the Tesla trademark was related to another company, e-Ashwa, with whom Tesla Power has a strategic partnership to sell branded products. According to Khurana, Tesla Power has been in business since 2020 and has a million customers in India.