PhonePe, BharatPe move to high court over ‘Pe’
Both PhonePe and BharatPe are leading players on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform.
TOI has seen court documents where the Walmart-owned Flipkart’s PhonePe sought an injunction order in a lawsuit against BharatPe. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal’s son Amit Sibal is representing the Bengaluru-based Phone-Pe, which was recently valued at more than $7 billion by Morgan Stanley. The Delhi-based BharatPe, over the last nine months, has emerged as one of the fastest growing merchant payment companies, an area PhonePe is expanding aggressively into.
While the court did not grant an injunction on PhonePe’s original appeal, the matter is set to be heard on October 9, the documents showed. The lawsuit was first filed in May, but the matter has not been reported before. BharatPe has raised over $65 million in the last six months from investors like US-based Ribbit Capital and Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital.
Interestingly, PhonePe and BharatPe had been arguing among themselves over the matter since August 2018, before the Bengaluru-based company moved the court. “The present suit has been filed seeking an injunction restraining infringement of trademark, passing off, damages, etc,” the court filings said. In this case, PhonePe has challenged the usage of Pe as suffix in BharatPe’s name in English as well as in Hindi — both in text and graphic description.
“They (PhonePe) had sent a legal notice to BharatPe last year and the latter changed the logo and colour in its original format. But that did not solve the issue, and both are now fighting it out in the court,” a person aware of the goings-on said.
Both PhonePe and BharatPe are leading players on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. According to UPI data sourced from industry executives, Bharat-Pe processed peer-to-merchant transactions to the tune of $76 million in value last month on UPI. PhonePe said it did merchant transactions worth $1 billion, including UPI and cards.
“PhonePe has approached the honourable Delhi high court to protect its brand trademarks, which we believe are being infringed. Considering the matter is sub judice, PhonePe would like to refrain from commenting beyond this,” a PhonePe spokesperson said in an e-mailed response. BharatPe co-founder and CEO Ashneer Grover declined to comment on the matter.