‘Deceptive marketing practices’: OLX complaint against PakWheels dismissed

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has passed an order regarding the alleged “deceptive marketing practices” by PakWheels (Pvt) Limited. The company was accused of being “fraudulently involved in using the trademark of OLX Classified Pakistan (OLX)”.

“A CCP bench, comprising Shaista Bano and Bushra Naz Malik, passed the order after hearing both parties, and in view of the absence of reliable evidence, set aside the inquiry report and disposed of the show cause notices against PakWheels,” said a statement issued by the commission on Thursday.

OLX had complained that PakWheels had been copying advertisements/listings and photographs bearing its watermarked logo and posting on their website without authorisation. By doing so, PakWheels was allegedly gaining commercial benefits from the reputation, goodwill and customer base of OLX.

Such an unauthorised use of its trademark by PakWheels was a violation of Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010, OLX maintained.

The CCP’s inquiry found that PakWheels was, prima facie, fraudulently using the registered trademark and logo of OLX without its authorisation or consent. Consequently, PakWheels was found, prima facie, to have been engaged in distributing false and misleading information to the consumers related to properties and place of production in violation of Section 10.

On the inquiry’s recommendations, a show cause notice was issued to PakWheels and hearings were held in the matter.

PakWheels denied the allegations and stated that 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 analysing 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 inquiry report and disposed of show cause notices against PakWheels.

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