The battle between UK-based Pearson-owned daily Financial Times (FT) and BCCL’s (Bennett, Coleman & Co) Times Publishing House (TPH) over the right of the title ‘Financial Times’ in India comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court today.
BCCL and FTL have been fighting the case since 1993. In 2001, FT said that BCCL had infringed its trademark by publishing a supplement called Financial Times with The Economic Times and filed a trademark suit against BCCL seeking protection of its trademark ‘FT’ in India.
The Times Group had registered the ‘Financial Times’ title in 1991 in Delhi, according to data available with RNI.
In April 2012, the tribunal body Intellectual Property Apellate Board (IPAB) decided that that there was no evidence to suggest ‘use’ in India from 1948, as claimed by Financial Times Limited (FTL), and ordered removal of the FTL mark from the register, following TPH’s application. However it allowed FTL’s rectification application against the mark, ‘Financial Times’ registered by TPH, saying, “There is clear evidence to show that the use of the words ‘Financial Times’ would indicate FTL and no one else. The mark is associated in the minds of the Indian readers with the UK paper, i.e. FTL, and not the Financial Times of any other country.”
The Tribunal also said that FTL was not violating the provisions of the Press and Registration of Books Act (PRB Act) as it was only circulating and not printing and/or publishing the newspaper in India, and the PRB Act would not apply to it.
FTL then filed a writ before the Delhi High Court challenging the IPAB order on the limited point of its trademark being cancelled.
In July 2012, FT CEO John Ridding had made it clear through an ad that FT was not in any way associated with the Indian title of the same name published by TPH.
On Pearson India's expectations from the Supreme Court verdict, Khozem Merchant, President – Pearson India said, “The Supreme Court is an august body whose judgment we shall respect. A positive judgment will amount to an affirmation of legislation permitting international print media to access the India market. That will enhance domestic media plurality – which has a fine and long tradition in India – and, by allowing a freer flow of global business information, genuinely serve India’s wider interests as its economy becomes a deeper member of the international community.”
BCCL could not be reached for comment.