Financial Times and Bennett, Coleman Lock Horns Yet Again Over Trademark

4 Comments

image
The Financial Times Ltd, which recently applied for necessary permissions to launch a facsimile edition of the British pink paper in India, is locked in a tussle over its trademark with Times Publishing House Ltd, a subsidiary of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, India’s largest publisher. The Financial Times Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pearson (NYSE: PSO) Plc., the publisher of Financial Times.

The title ‘Financial Times’ was registered by Times Publishing House in 1991 in Delhi, according to the data available with the Registrar of Newspapers in India. That company also registered ‘The Financial Times’ as early as 1984 and has been bringing out a supplement with that title alongwith The Economic Times, India’s largest business daily. RNI is governed by the Press & Registration of Books Act, 1867 and is also the custodian of titles of publications.

The Financial Times Ltd has now approached the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, a government body that settles disputes over trade marks, to be able to use their internationally recognized trademark in India. The case came up for hearing on 12 February and has now been posted for hearing in July, according to an official at the agency, who asked not to be identified. “They have applied for the rectification of their title under the Trademark Act of 1999,” the official said, referring to The Financial Times Ltd.

Pearson was one of the earliest global media players to establish presence in India. Financial Times had forged a content partnership with Business Standard, which grew into a strategic partnership in 2003, when the London publisher picked up a 14% stake in Business Standard Ltd. The relationship came to an end in early 2008 and Mint first reported in March last year that FT was now looking to enter the Indian market through a partnership with the Network18 Group. Through April and May, Times Publishing House registered a slew of titles relating to the ‘Financial Times’ title, according to RNI. Following are some of them: Asian Financial Times, Financial Times Asia, Daily Financial Times, Emerging Financial Times, Financial Times of Asia. FT, FT Asia, FT Network, FT South Asia, FT World, FT Worlwide, WFT, World Financial Times and Worldwide Financial Times.

Titles of BCCL’s better known publications, such as The Times of India and The Economic Times, are owned by BCCL itself, and not Times Publishing House.

This is the second time the two publishers are going head to head over the title. In 1995, Financial Times moved the Bangalore District Court claiming Times Publishing House was infringing on its trademark/trade name, according to Indiatrademarks.com, which chronicles trademark-related disputes. The court issued an interim order in their favour. Times appealed in the Karnataka High Court, claiming it had publishing rights in India through the registration of the title under the Press Act. FT then approached the Supreme Court, which refused to interfere with the HC order and said Times could use the title with a disclaimer that it had nothing to do with Financial Times Ltd.

When contacted, an FT spokesperson said the company had no comment at this time. BCCL CEO Ravi Dhariwal declined comment.

4 Comments

Ken

Companies must not use any similar sounding names to avoid confusion on the part their followers. In worst case scenario, Some companies keep on doing transactions under the name of a well-known company for their own benefit.

Sukumar Muralidharan

Interesting story. BCCL registered the Financial Times title as one among many ways of blocking a possible joint venture between Business Standard of the ABP group and Pearson to publish the paper in India. It also had a parallel strategy of lobbying with the Government to proscribe foreign investment in the Indian print media. ABP finally got tired of waiting and first hived off Business Standard as a separate company, before totally disinvesting. Meanwhile, the policy regime had changed, in part because HT switched allegiance and joined the pro-foreign investment crowd, after being driven to the wall by TOI's predatory pricing in the Delhi market. BCCL promptly spun off its magazine publications into a separate company and secured significant infusions of foreign investments in these, but retained its flagship publications — ToI and ET — under the control of the parent company. But now with the Financial Times finding alternate avenues of entering the Indian market, BCCL naturally, is finding several alternate strategies of blocking it. Wonder if the money invested in retaining the sleazy lawyers who implement this strategy may not be better spent in news-gathering…

sms

Asian Financial Times, Financial Times Asia, Daily Financial Times, Emerging Financial Times, Financial Times of Asia. FT, FT Asia, FT Network, FT South Asia, FT World, FT Worlwide, WFT, World Financial Times and Worldwide Financial Times.

Samantha

Trademark really distinguishes the company. Many followers find it very confusing if there are so many quite similar names.

Comments are closed.