ARTICLE
26 January 2023

PhonePe vs DigiPe

Ka
Khurana and Khurana

Contributor

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On the other hand, the Defendants submitted a registration application for the Infringing Mark "DigiPe" on September 26,2022.
India Intellectual Property
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In numerous instances, PhonePe has been defending the suffix "Pe." In a recent case involving PhonePe Pvt. Ltd. (plaintiff) vs. Ezy Services & Anr. (defendant), on April 15, 2021, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court, comprised of Hon'ble Justice C. Hari Shankar, rendered a noteworthy judgement in a commercial suit filed and resolved an interim application between "PhonePe" and "BharatPe" regarding whether the use of the suffix " The proceedings in this case are related to an interim application seeking an interim injunction pursuant to Rules 1 and 2 of Order XXXIX of the Civil Procedure Code, which govern temporary injunctions and interlocutory orders.

Before the Delhi High Court, the plaintiff had filed a lawsuit against the defendant, requesting a permanent injunction and other remedies against the defendant's use of "Pe" or other misleading mark that was identical to or somewhat similar to the plaintiff's trademark "PhonePe." Regarding payment services or in any other way that would violate the plaintiff's trademark. Both parties are providers of online payment services. Despite the fact that the defendant (EZY Services/BharatPe) only conducts business with merchants, the plaintiff (PhonePe) works with both consumers and merchants. The court correctly held that parties cannot misspell descriptive or generic words in order to claim exclusivity over them, especially at this prima facie stage, unless there is substantial evidence that such misspelling has acquired secondary meaning through continuous commercial use, that is, different from the literal meaning, which is an aspect the High Court has held to be a matter. The court also denied to grant an interim injunction against the defendants.

According to the RBI licence granted to the company on December 9, 2016, which was then extended through August 23, 2022, PhonePe has been in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) industry since 2016. The term "DigiPe" was registered by PhonePe as a device and as terms in multiple clauses starting at 9, 35, 36, and 42.

On the other hand, the Defendants submitted a registration application for the Infringing Mark "DigiPe" on September 26,2022. The respondent told the applicant counsel through its counsel that it was willing to break a piece after the applicant issued a legal notice on 05.08.2022. However, has gone on to file a trademark application for the illegal mark "DIGIPE" to be registered.

Following the trademark infringement lawsuit filed by well-known digital payments startup PhonePe, the Madras High Court has temporarily barred DigiPe Fintech Private Limited from using its mark "DigiPe." The problematic trademark "DigiPe," according to Justice C. Saravanan, is confusingly similar to the "PhonePe" mark, which PhonePe has registered in the classes mentioned above.

The balance of convenience for the issuance of interim relief, according to the court, favours the plaintiff because the defendant has not yet started a UPI business. The court also stated that when PhonePe served DigiPe with a legal notice, the latter company expressed a willingness to reach a solution. They ignored this, though, and in September 2022 they submitted a request for the registration of the mark "DigiPe."

The interim respite must last for four weeks, the court ruled. The honourable court further ruled that if the requested temporary relief is granted, the defendant won't experience any harm or lose any money. However, if an injunction is not granted, the applicant may have to put up with the use of the infringing mark "DigiPe," which is confusingly similar to the marks "PhonePe" that the applicant has registered in Classes 9, 35, 36, and 42.

The Madras High Court in October 2022 also had issued temporary injunctions on digital payment app including MobilePe and its group companies from providing Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) services.

Conclusion

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) industry has been in operation for PhonePe Private Limited from 2016. Even after receiving a legal warning from PhonePe, the defendant, DigiPe Fintech Private Limited, submitted an application for registration of the mark "DIGIPE" in September 2022. Following a trademark infringement lawsuit by the plaintiff, the defendant's use of the mark "DIGIPE" has been temporarily prohibited by the Madras High Court. Additionally, the Court noted that the infringing trademark "DIGIPE" is similar to the "PhonePe" mark, which PhonePe Private Limited has registered in Classes 9, 35, 36, and 42. The defendant won't experience any loss, the court continued, if the requested temporary relief is granted. On the other hand, if no injunction is granted, the applicant may have to put up with the use of offending trademark "DIGIPE" which is deceptively similar to the marks "Phone Pe".

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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