The Bombay High Court dismissed PhonePe’s trademark infringement case against fintech startup BharatPe’s buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) arm PostPe on Thursday (April 6), dealing a major blow to the digital payments giant.
PhonePe’s interim injunction application, which sought to prevent PostPe from using the brand name due to similarities to PhonePe’s trademarks, was denied by Justice Manish Pitale.
In its order, the court noted that PhonePe failed to make a strong prima facie case for grant of interim relief. The HC rejected PhonePe’s claim that “gullible or uneducated persons, or even educated and aware customers,” would be confused by the two parties’ services.
The court rejected PhonePe’s claim that the two trademarks were phonetically and structurally similar, noting that the term ‘Pe’ was widely used and alluded to ‘Pay’ in the domain in which both players were active.
BharatPe argued in its submissions that the term ‘PostPe’ was coined from the concept of postponed payment, alluding to customers’ ability to buy now and pay later. The fintech behemoth also stated that it only accepted customers with acceptable credit histories, as opposed to PhonePe’s simple payment service via UPI and other modes.
The new ruling adds to the long-running dispute between BharatPe and PhonePe over the use of the suffix ‘Pe.’