Sunday, February 3, 2013

Supreme Court Of India Would Decide Trademark Rights For Financial Times Name

Perry4Law, the leading IPRs law firm of India, has reported that the decades old trademark dispute between two newspaper giants would be heard by the Indian Supreme Court today.

The matter is of great significance to various stakeholders and we are posting this news brief here, as a guest post, for the larger benefit of all stakeholders.

Trademarks, brands and trade names have assumed great significance in today’s world. They are also essential part of intellectual property rights (IPRs) that must be adequately safeguarded.

With information technology supplementing the sale and distribution of goods and services world over, protection of trademarks has become really difficult. This is the reason why trademarks must be protected globally as trademark protection is territorial in nature.

Similarly, online brand protection in India has become a must these days. The companies around the world are so particular about protecting their brands that they at times cross the limits of lawful acts. Trademark and brand protection under new GTLDs registration by ICANN would further complicate the scenario.

Trademark registration in India is governed by the Trademarks Act 1999 of India. A registered trademark is valid for a period of 10 years that can be renewed for another 10 years at a time. Further, international registration of trademarks under Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol can also be explored by applicants. However, the Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol and its applicability and implementation in India are still in a flux.

One such trademark issue that is presently contestable is pending between Financial Times and Times of India. The dispute pertains to use of the words/brand financial times. Both parties are asserting their rights to use the name financial times. This has become a two-decade old trademark dispute that has now come before the Supreme Court of India for final adjudication.

The UK based Financial Times is planning to bring online and facsimile editions in India. It has already received clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and in-principle approval from the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) in 2009. However, it could not start the editions here as Times Publishing House, a Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) firm, obtained a stay from a Karnataka court immediately after the Financial Times received the approvals. FT had moved the apex court against this order.

Good growth of e-commerce in India is also encouraging UK’s Financial Times to offer subscription for its online edition and applications for tablets. This would also extend the growth and reach of UK’s Financial Times in all parts of the world, including India.

In late 1980s, UK’s Financial Times had entered into a content sharing arrangement with the Times of India Group. But, the arrangement did not work and Financial Times applied for a trademark registration in India in 1987. However, it did not apply for the RNI registration of the newspaper title that time.