Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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Key Takeaways

  • Cybersquatting is the process of registering an Internet domain name that is likely to be desired by another person, business, or organization in the hopes of selling it for a profit to that person, business, or organization.
  • Unlike the traditional trademark system, where identical trademarks can be owned by numerous people depending on factors like geography or the type of products or product, the virtual world has a rule that only one person can own a domain name.
  • There is no explicit regulation in India that addresses cybersquatting and other domain name disputes.
  • The Trade Marks Act of 1999 has a restriction in that it is not extraterritorial and hence does not give effective protection for domain names.

Introduction

Every business or organization, large or small, likes to have a presence on the Internet in today's environment. With the advancement of technology, it has become easier for a company or organization to sell its goods and services over the internet, which has a wide reach among the general public. This is commonly accomplished by launching websites under the company or business's name after registering the website's name, also known as the domain name. A domain name is usually made up of a company's or organization's trademark, and it can act as a classing trademark signifying the company's awareness and goodwill in the marketplace.

What is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting is the process of registering an Internet domain name that is likely to be desired by another person, business, or organization in the hopes of selling it for a profit to that person, business, or organization. It entails the registration of trademarks and trade names as domain names by third parties that do not own the trademarks or trade names. Simply put, cybersquatters (also known as bad faith imitators) register third-party trade-marks, trade names, business names, and so on with the intention of profiting from the reputation and goodwill of such third parties by confusing customers or potential customers, and in some cases, selling the domain name to the rightful owner at a profit.

What is a Domain name?

Every Internet resource, such as a web page or a file of information, has its own Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address. A domain name is a portion of the Internet address that is assigned to each computer or service. The domain name system converts names into numbers or IP addresses. These numbers are then linked to a domain name, which is simple to read and remember the address. The domain name does not need to change if the machine or service does, but the sequence of numbers will. The domain name is designed to have more meaning for humans than the numerical sequence.

Domain Name Disputes

  • Because of the worth and power of a domain name, businesses are sometimes willing to spend a large amount of time and money to obtain them.
  • Unlike the traditional trademark system, where identical trademarks can be owned by numerous people depending on factors like geography or the type of products or product, the virtual world has a rule that only one person can own a domain name.
  • In the first, an individual or group with no other rights to a name may register a website with that name, resulting in a domain name dispute. Extortion, appropriation of goodwill, diversion of web traffic, defamation, dilution, and other goals may be pursued.
  • The second type of issue occurs when there is a dispute between people who are equally entitled to a name, which is a common occurrence given the worldwide nature of the internet.

Legal Analysis

  • There is no explicit regulation in India that addresses cybersquatting and other domain name disputes. The Trade Marks Act of 1999 may be utilized to protect trademarks in domain names. The Trade Marks Act of 1999 has a restriction in that it is not extraterritorial and hence does not give effective protection for domain names. Despite the lack of such legislation, the Indian courts have been highly active in awarding remedies in cases of cyber-squatting.
  • (Yahoo Inc. v. Akash Arora, 1999) was India's first cybersquatting case. Yahoo Inc., situated in the United States, had sought an injunction against the defendant Akash Arora, who had registered an identical domaindeceptively similar to "Yahoo.com." The High Court of Delhi issued an injunction in favor of the plaintiff, prohibiting the defendant from using the term "Yahoo!" since it infringed on Yahoo Inc.'s trademark. Because the defendant's domain name was deceptively similar, consumers were easily deceived, despite the defendant's disclaimer and the addition of the word "India" to its domain name.
  • The Rediff case is another important case in the establishment of the Indian domain name law. The High Court of Bombay held in (Rediff Communication Ltd. v. Cyberbooth and Others , 1999)that "a domain name is more than an internet address and is entitled to the same protection as a trademark." In this case, the plaintiff sought an injunction against the defendant for registering a domain name in the plaintiff's likeness, arguing that the domain name was deceptively similar to theirs. There was a shared activity area. The judge was convinced that there was a clear intent to deceive and that the defendants' primary motivation for registering was to profit from the goodwill and reputation of the company.

Common law approach

  • The defendant in (Marks & Spencer v. One-in-a-Million , 1997)had registered domain names for multiple corporations under his name.
  • The defendant's actions, according to the Court, demonstrated an intentional habit of registering domain names that are similar to the names of well-known brands, as well as an intent to deceive the public by picking such domain names.
  • In all five cases, the High Court granted an injunction, stating that injunctions are awarded by the courts when a name is chosen with the intent to cause passing off or to be used fraudulently.

Conclusion

Cybersquatting has become so common in today's world that it has been dubbed a modern-day form of extortion, making it a significant legal issue. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was enacted in the United States in 1999 to try to resolve conflicts in this area; however, there is no comparable legislation in India that specifically addresses cyber-squatting. In India, all cyber-squatting proceedings are decided under trademark law, which is bound to be unproductive.


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