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18 October 2018
The Competition Commission recently conducted an enquiry following a complaint filed by Pakistan Services Limited against Pearl Continental Hotel (Abbottabad), Omni Comm (Private) Limited, Pearl Hotel (Faisalabad) and Lucky Gold (Private) Limited for fraudulently using the complainant's registered trademark PEARL CONTINENTAL and 'PC' logo (Figure 1) in a similar or identical style and design for the branding of their hotels. It was further alleged that the respondents' conduct could harm the complainant's business interests and goodwill, which amounted to deceptive marketing practices.
The complainant owns extensive rights to the PEARL CONTINENTAL trademark and the PC logo in relation to hotel and hospitality services in Pakistan and 33 countries across the world. Both trademarks:
The complainant had granted a franchise to the respondents for operation of a four star hotel in Abbottabad and Faisalabad under the trademark/trade name PEARL CONTINENTAL and its logo PC. The respondents failed to honour their contractual obligations, which resulted in the termination of the franchise arrangement with respondents one and two in 2003, and with respondents three and four in 2013, whereby the complainant withdrew the authority to use the its trademark, trade name and logo with immediate effect.
Subsequently, the respondents had resorted to deceptive marketing practices through the unauthorised use of said marks on their main signage, menu cards, letterheads, invoices, billing receipts, banquet contracts and decorations and order books (see Figure 2).
The enquiry committee found as follows:
distribution of false and misleading information to consumers, including the distribution of information lacking a reasonable basis, related to the character, place of production, properties, and quality of services.
The enquiry report accordingly recommended issuance of a show cause notice against the respondents.
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