The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has passed an interim order directing two companies, Omni Comm (Pvt.) Limited, and Lucky Gold (Pvt.) Limited, to stop using the trademark of “Pearl Continental” or “PC” hotel till the issuance of the final order by CCP.
Pakistan Services Limited (PSL), a company that owns PC hotel, filed an application under Section 32 of the Competition Act, 2010 seeking interim relief in the matter of prima facie deceptive marketing practices by the two companies using the brand name and logo of PC Hotel without any authorization.
PSL had filed a formal complaint under the Competition Act that Omni Comm and Lucky Gold were running their hotels under the brand name of “PC Hotel” in Abbottabad and Faisalabad, respectively, without any authorisation, thus not only harming its business interests but also deceiving consumers.
Although PSL had granted franchises to the Omni Comm for a four star hotel in Abbottabad and Lucky Gold for a four star hotel in Faisalabad, however, later on it had terminated the agreements due to not fulfilling the minimum requirements prescribed by PSL. Despite termination of the business agreements, the two companies were still using the trade name and logo of PC Hotel at their respective hotels.
The CCP’s enquiry found that Omni Comm and Lucky Gold were prima facie fraudulently using the brand name and logo of PSL. The CCP issued Show Cause Notices to the two companies.
Meanwhile, the PSL filed an application with the CCP seeking an Interim order in the case to prevent further damage to its business and goodwill until the CCP concludes its proceedings.
After hearing the parties, the CCP’s bench passed an interim order directing Omni Comm (Pvt.) Limited and Lucky Gold (Pvt.) Limited to immediately stop using Pakistan Services Limited trade mark “PC” and “Pearl Continental” for the branding of their hotels anywhere without the authorisation and approval of the complainant until the conclusion of the proceedings and issuance of the final order. The bench directed Omni Comm (Pvt.) Limited and Lucky Gold (Pvt.) Limited to submit a compliance report with the Commission within seven days.
In its Order, CCP has recognized that part of any business’s identity is the goodwill it has established with consumers, while part of a product’s identity is the reputation it has earned for quality and value. In a larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit.
Trademark protection also deter unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services. This enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in fair conditions, thereby facilitating international trade.
CCP is mandated under the Competition Act to ensure free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity, to enhance economic efficiency and to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices including deceptive marketing practices.