Domain Name registrars are “intermediaries” under Information Technology Act, says Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to e-commerce platform Snapdeal in its suit seeking an injunction against domain name registrars (DNRs) from offering any domain names with its trademark “SNAPDEAL”.
A bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar was dealing with the application filed by Snapdeal against a bunch of DNRs, with whom it has no connection or association, registering domain names that include the “SNAPDEAL” word/ thread.
As per Snapdeal’s allegations, these domain names are infringing in nature, as the plaintiff is the registered proprietor of the “SNAPDEAL” trademark. It is also alleged that such third parties are, through the websites operating under the said domain names, carrying out illegal activities, such as providing lucky draws, etc., and are also, in certain cases, posing as customer care centers for the plaintiff’s products. All this, it is submitted, is taking place without the plaintiff’s license or authorization.
In the 50-page order, the court, however, said it cannot pass an order to operate in the future restricting the defendants from offering for registration any domain name that includes the thread “SNAPDEAL“, as that would be attributing to the court a “clairvoyance that it does not possess”.
“The plaintiff has, therefore, necessary to petition the court against each domain name that it finds to be infringing. This may be a long and cumbersome exercise. It cannot be helped. There is no shortcut to justice.
“In my considered opinion, it is not permissible for the court to hold, in advance, that every prospective alternative domain name, containing the word/ thread/ string ‘SNAPDEAL’ would necessarily be infringing in nature and, thereby, injunct, in an omnibus and global fashion, DNRs from ever providing any domain name containing ‘SNAPDEAL’. This, in my view, would be completely impermissible,” it said.
“The court would then have to examine whether such mark is, in fact, infringing and, if so, injunct the use of such mark/ domain names. The cause of action, in any trademark infringement suit, has to be with respect to the particular infringing trademark/ trademarks.”
[With Inputs from IANS]
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