An article written by independent journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, titled ‘Financial Times: Whose intellectual property?’ which appeared in business daily Mint on February 4, 2013, has earned the ire of Bennett, Coleman & Co (BCCL).
BCCL has sent a legal notice to Guha Thakurta a couple of days back in this regard.
The article pertained to the legal battle between UK-based Pearson-owned daily Financial Times (FT) and BCCL’s Times Publishing House (TPH) over the right to the title ‘Financial Times’ in India, which came up for hearing in Supreme Court on February 4, 2013.
When contacted by exchange4media, Guha Thakurta confirmed the news and said, “I have received a legal notice from KC Dutta and Associates regarding the article.”
On his next step, he replied, “I am in the process of replying to that notice.”
As is known, BCCL and FTL have been fighting the case since 1993. In 2001, FT had said that BCCL had infringed on 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 title ‘Financial Times’ in Delhi in 1991, according to data available with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI).
In April 2012, the tribunal body, Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), decided that there was no evidence to suggest ‘use’ in India from 1948, as claimed by Financial Times (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, that is, 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.