In one of its latest commercial messages, Financial Times has a message for the readers in India from its CEO, John Ridding. The context is the long-drawn battle between the UK based Pearson-owned daily and BCCL’s (Bennett, Coleman & Co) Times Publishing House, over the right of the title ‘Financial Times’.
In the ad, Ridding is quoted saying, “The Financial Times would like to make clear that the internationally renowned ‘Financial Times’ newspaper is not in any way associated with the Indian title of the same name published by TPH, a part of BCCL.”
The ad then explains the reason for the message stating that it was prompted by an advertisement promoting Financial Times, the supplement from The Times of India Group.
The ad is coming on the back of the decision by the tribunal body Intellectual Property Apellate Board (IPAB), in April 2012 that amongst other things said that “FTL (Financial Times Limited) is indisputably the first one to adopt the mark ‘Financial Times’. FTL is clearly first in the market.”
The Tribunal said that when FTL applied for registration of the trademark, there was no other newspaper which was being published under the said title and hence the grant of registration in FTL’s favour would not violate the provisions of the Press and Registration of Books Act (PRB Act). The Tribunal, however, also said that since FTL at present is only circulating and not printing and/or publishing the newspaper in India, the PRB Act would not apply to it.
As is known, BCCL and FTL are fighting the case since 1993. Various developments have transpired on the subject. In 2001, FT said that BCCL 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 registered the ‘Financial Times’ title in 1991 in Delhi, according to the data available with RNI. In addition it registered several similar titles with RNI.
The IPAB April order said, “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. FTL’s mark has acquired distinctiveness because of long use and in any event, TPH having applied for the same mark cannot attack it as being descriptive.”