Stay on hearing over ‘Financial Times’ trademark

The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the proceedings before the Karnataka High Court pertaining to determination of the validity of registration of the trademark 'Financial Times (FT)' in India.

Admitting a petition by the Financial Times Ltd (FTL) of London, a Bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued a notice to the Times Publishing House Ltd (TPHL) and sought their response in two weeks.

TPHL is a part of the conglomerate led by Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL) — publishers of The Times of India and the The Economic Times.

"List the matter after four weeks. In the meantime, there will be an interim order staying the hearing of RFA No.193/2003 (case number) pending before the Karnataka High Court," stated the order.

The proceeding in the apex court marked another development in the long-drawn battle for the use of brand name between the two newspaper giants, spanning more than two decades.

The FTL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pearson Plc. The UK publisher has been fighting the Times group to get clear rights to its "Financial Times" title to launch the paper in India. Meanwhile, BCCL has registered Financial Times under Times Publishing Group, a subsidiary of BCCL.

The battle over FT's globally registered title and trademark began in 1993 when the FTL filed a civil suit against the infringement in Bangalore. FTL lost and its appeal in the High Court is now pending.

However, another plea relating to the use of the impugned mark was decided by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in April last year whereby the Board cancelled the trademark registrations of both the entities, citing different grounds.

An appeal against the IPAB order is currently pending before the Delhi High Court.

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