Domain names are something which we come across often these days but not everybody is aware of the concept of it. Domain name serves the same purpose in the virtual world which trademark does in the real world. So this can give an impression about domain names and also the similarity between domain names and trademark. Thus we can say that domain name represents the originator or the brand on the virtual platform.
Here I will discuss a very interesting case on domain name which will help in understanding this concept clearly.
Yahoo Inc. V. Akash Arora (1999) and this is a Delhi High Court decision.Yahoo Inc. was already a registered web site having regional websites but that was not registered in India and Akash Arora brought up a site named Yahoo India and the manner and services were similar as provided by Yahoo Inc.
As a result Yahoo Inc. brought a passing off action against Akash Arora saying that the site Yahoo India provides similar services which gives an impression to the consumers that it is a regional web site of Yahoo Inc. and also if a person is searching for the regional or Indian site for Yahoo might get this and misunderstands it as one of the regional web site.
The defendant argued that Yahoo is a dictionary word and thus no one can claim exclusivity on it and also argued that all net users are educated enough to make out things.
Delhi High Court said that passing off action’s purpose is to protect the goodwill of the plaintiff be it whatever way that is either goods or services.
If there is a misrepresentation as to the origin of goods or services and it results in impediment of the reputation.
It was finally held that services can also come under the passing off action and can amount to passing off like in the case of goods.
Court referred to case of Card Services Inc. V. Mc Gee Inc. where Mc Gee Inc. got domain name cardservices.com registered but the plaintiff is the user of card services in real world and the web site provided similar services like card services. When a person would type www.cardservices.com and would be taken to this site which will give the net user the impression that it is the site related to the plaintiff which will hamper the reputation of the plaintiff.
Court further referred to Rustom Hornby V. Zamindari Engineering (1970) SC 1649 where it was said that when there is a close resemblance then addition of the word India is of no respect. A consumer may end up believing that the web site is plaintiff’s site only for India. Thus addition of the word India is no consequence.
Court said that passing off action may lie even in case of domain names.
Thus we can see that that how Court has derived a relationship between trademark and domain names and gave domain names equal footing in case of passing off action which is not generally known by us but is necessary to understand the complexities of the digital world as the whole world has become so technologically and digitally advanced.
Brands and Fakes has aligned the capabilities of the service delivery eco system with the industry verticals, so that the Brands under various industry verticals and sub verticals are able to get services from expertise in their specific domains.