Ever wondered what the law has to say about domain names which are deceptively similar to existing, famous brands? The Delhi High Court directed the blocking of these phishing websites being run in the name of Dabur India by passing a John Doe order directing the blocking of these domain names and pulling down of these related websites.
The Facts of the Case
Industry giant Dabur India Ltd filed a case, seeking a permanent injunction against different IPs containing the ‘DABUR’ trademark. DABUR’s mark was used by various websites and domain names with names similar to the Dabur’s. Websites such as https://wdaburdistributor.com, and https://daburdistributorships.in represented themselves to be the owner or the plaintiff, seeking commerce on the basis of this connection. They also called upon people to register themselves on these websites to be appointed as agents so they could sell “Dabur” products. One of these websites even charged a payment of Rs.25,000 for this registration.
The Court stated that the mark ‘DABUR’ was a well-known trademark with unquestionable goodwill. Under these circumstances, the use of the aforementioned domain names and the hosting of websites in the given manner, deceptively using the word “DABUR”, the Court noted, ought not to be permitted. The court acknowledged that Plaintiff’s legal rights were harmed by these websites as they illegally used the mark ‘DABUR’, as well as the company’s trade dress, labels, logos, product packaging, etc. It was observed that the attempt was not merely infringement and passing off, but to indulge in complete impersonation of the Plaintiff itself. The court said that it found a prima facie case for the grant of an ex-parte injunction in this case, as “irreparable loss” would have been caused to the Plaintiff due to these activities.
The Court also noted that these domain names and websites were deceiving and cheating the general public, and therefore the loss to the general public was also incalculable. To curb any malpractice or any monetary harm to the public, and to protect the rights of Dabur India as well as its franchisees and distributors, the Court directed the registry services to block these domain names. It also directed the Department of Telecom and the Ministry of Electronics and IT to issue directions to internet service providers (ISPs) to block these websites. The Court expressed further concerns about the growing practice of domain name scams hidden behind disclosed identities of purchasers.
Dabur may be a special case because it has an enormous amount of goodwill, and that allows for les doubt to the claims of irreparable damage necessary to an injunction. However, a precedent on domain name cybersquatting is very welcome in today’s increasingly digital world.
Author: Ishant Singh, Legal Intern at PA Legal.
In case of any queries, kindly contact us here.
Thank you for reading our blog! We’d love to hear from you! 🙂
- Are you Interested in IP facts?
- Would you like to know more about how IP affects everyday lives?
- Have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover?