The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has passed an order deciding the matter of alleged deceptive marketing practices by PakWheels (Pvt) Limited for fraudulently using the trademark of OLX Classified Pakistan (OLX).
The CCP’s bench comprising Ms. Shaista Bano and Ms. Bushra Naz Malik passed the order after hearing both the parties, and in view of the absence of reliable evidence, set aside the enquiry report and disposed of the show cause notices against PakWheels.
OLX complained to the CCP that PakWheels had been copying advertisements/listings and photographs bearing its watermarked logo and posting on their website without authorization. By doing so, PakWheels was allegedly gaining commercial benefits from the reputation, goodwill and customer base of OLX by falsely implying and promoting its services/business to be the same or connected to or authorized by OLX. OLX alleged that such an unauthorized use of its trademark by PakWheels was a violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010.
The CCP’s enquiry found that PakWheels was, prima facie, fraudulently using the registered trademark and logo of OLX along with the photographs and description without its authorization or consent. Consequently, PakWheels was found, prima facie, to have been engaged in distributing false and misleading information to the consumers related to the properties and place of production in violation of Section 10. On the enquiry’s recommendations, a show cause notice was issued to PakWheels and hearings were held in the matter.
PakWheels denied the allegations and stated that the online platforms posting classified advertisements usually allow relative freedom and anonymity to the users in posting their advertisements even on more than one website. Pleading its innocence in the matter, PakWheels further stated that possibly, due to lack of knowledge or awareness of the relevant laws, the users/third parties might have inadvertently posted OLX watermarked photos on its website. Moreover, the old online content relied upon by OLX as evidence would be difficult to judge as true or false because a listing/advertisement is generally removed from the website once the transaction is complete. Therefore, as per the contentions, the veracity of the evidence provided by the Complainant could not be verified.
Taking into consideration and analyzing the arguments from both sides, the CCP’s bench constituted a Technical Committee to ascertain the facts pertaining to the matter and give an expert opinion vis-à-vis the technical nature of the evidence available on record.
After visiting the PakWheel’s premises and conducting various technical tests at its systems, the Technical Committee concluded that PakWheels had not been involved in copying or reproducing advertisements/listings originally posted on OLX website.
In view of the finding of the Technical Report and absence of reliable evidence, the CCP set aside the enquiry report and disposed of show cause notices against PakWheels.