PayPal has filed a complaint against Paytm for "stealing" and using a logo which is "deceptively and confusingly similar" to their own logo.

War of the brands PayPal charges Paytm with trademark infringementPTI
news Digital Payment Monday, December 19, 2016 - 19:40

India’s largest digital payments startup, Paytm has been accused of trademark "theft" by one of the largest global payments company PayPal.

PayPal, the global company founded in 1998 by Silicon Valley moguls Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, has contested that the Alibaba Group-backed firm Paytm is trying to access its "global reputation and grow its user base". 

California-based PayPal has filed a complaint with the Indian trademark office, against Paytm for "stealing" and using a logo which is "deceptively and confusingly similar" to their own logo. Paytm is being accused of  having "slavishly adopted the two-tone blue colour scheme", which is a trademark of the PayPal logo. The complaint was filed on November 18.

Not only the colour combinations, but "both marks begins with the term 'PAY', which consumers tend to remember more than the second syllable, and the marks are of similar length...These similarities cause a likelihood of confusion…," according to the complaint.

The complaint further reads as, "There is no reason for the Applicant (Paytm) to adopt the identical colours and colour scheme other than to take advantage of the reputation of the Opponent (PayPal) has built up into this combination in connection with its popular services... The applicant could have chosen from a sheer endless variety of colours and colour combinations."

Paytm, however hasn’t yet responded to these allegations, as reported by Quartz.

In the notice, PayPal mentioned that it has been using its trademark across several counties since 1999, while Paytm’s logo is yet to be completely registered.

Rahul Dev, a tech corporate lawyer and a patent attorney, explained through a LinkedIn post, that for a company to register its trademark in India, it needs to first advertise its logo, and wait for four months. During this time anyone can raise objections and oppose it.

PayPal’s complaint however surfaces at a strategic time.

With Paytm’s logo having been advertised on July 18, the complaint of November 18, came on the final day of the four-month time-frame. Further on, experts say that this could be stemming from competitiveness, especially after their booming success following the government's move of demonetisation.

Samuel Niranjan, a counsel for intellectual property, at law firm Khaitan & Co. confirmed to The Economic Times, "Paytm has been around for some time now and PayPal could have objected to the use of the mark by initiating legal proceedings. This wasn't done. Whilst filing of oppositions is fairly normal in the industry, in the present case, it may also be a competitive move," 

He further added, "It seems that considering the popularity of Paytm recently (thanks to demonetisation and the government's push for digital payments), PayPal may have decided to file an opposition on the last day of the deadline".