Delhi High Court Permits John Doe Order Despite the Delhi High Court ruling that Dabur India Limited should receive interim relief, the court ordered the blocking of certain websites (John Doe) that use the 'DABUR' domain illegally. Rather than merely infringing or passing off, it is purported to be impersonating completely. Justice Pratibha M Singh found that DABUR India Limited met...
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Delhi High Court Permits John Doe Order
Despite the Delhi High Court ruling that Dabur India Limited should receive interim relief, the court ordered the blocking of certain websites (John Doe) that use the 'DABUR' domain illegally. Rather than merely infringing or passing off, it is purported to be impersonating completely.
Justice Pratibha M Singh found that DABUR India Limited met the requirements for an ex-parte injunction on prima facie grounds and that the balance of convenience was in its favour.
The plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm if an ex-parte injunction is not granted in their favour and the public would also suffer irreparable harm, the Court said.
The order is John Doe as the owner of the impugned sphere names is hidden.
According to the Court, registering domain names with masking or hiding the information of the registrant is increasingly being practiced by person registering domain names which infringe on the rights of trademark or name owners.
It was found that such registrants seek to register domain names and host websites in an anonymous or concealment manner, without disclosing where they are located. They use the domain names, excluding the entire world, including the trademark owners, the Court confirmed.
When anyone or any entity registers a trademark, company name, joint venture, etc., the identity of the person is made publicly available. In contrast, this is not the case with domain names. It would therefore appear that disabling privacy protection features is necessary to ensure the identities of those registering domain names are made publicly available on https://www.whois.com database, as other such databases as well.
In response, the Court directed the Centre to describe its position regarding privacy protection features offered by domain registrars to their clients.
Affidavits must be filed by the defendant's Nos. 2 and 3 one week before the next court date, the court instructed.
Furthermore, the Court acknowledged that the mark 'DABUR' has been known in India for centuries, having been coined way back in 1884, when contemplating the plaintiff's motion for a temporary injunction under Order XXXIX Rule 1 and 2.
In essence, it's an Indian brand that has been around for over 150 years, and it has also become a household name. The Plaintiff has produced a broad range of goods for the Indian public, ranging from pharmaceutical products to toiletries to food items and medicines. The Plaintiff's products are also exported abroad, and therefore its business and goodwill have no doubt," the Court stated.
According to the statement, "Subsequently, the use of the aforementioned domain names and the hosting of websites using the same should not be permitted so that the general public and small businesses can be misled into acquiring franchisees and distributorships to use the DABUR name."
A suit filed by Dabur India Limited in the High Court sought a permanent injunction and damages with respect to multiple infringements of intellectual properties, including the trademark 'DABUR', the copyright in the packaging and labels of its products, passing off, and unfair competition.
The plaintiff was thus arguing that various domain names and websites were now using the mark 'DABUR' and showing a variety of products associated with that trademark.
Consequently, the Court felt that Plaintiff's legal rights had been severely injured.
"Moreover, apart from violating the Plaintiff's rights, it would be detrimental to the public interest to permit these domain names and websites to continue operating so that they can continue to deceive and cheat the Indian and international public," the Court further stated.
The following directions are therefore given by the Court:
- Plaintiffs Nos.4 & 5 shall immediately block the domain names, as well as the websites https://www.daburdistributor.com. https://daburdistributorships.in, and www.daburfranchisee.in.
- As for the said domain names, the status quo will be maintained and the same will be locked immediately. There can be no transfer by defendants 4 & 5 of the said domain names or any creation of another's interest in them.
- Defendants Nos.2, 3 - DoT and MEITY shall issue instructions to all ISPs to block the websites as well as any other websites bearing the mark "DABUR" except those that belong to the Plaintiff.
- Defendants Nos. 4 & 5 shall also disclose this information to LD. Attorney for the Plaintiff should file an affidavit before this Court detailing the contact details of the persons whose names are related to the above-mentioned domain names. This includes their complete mailing address, email address, and bank account number. Contact details and telephone numbers are included as well. Within one week after receiving a copy of this order, the said affidavit will be due. If you receive this order, defendants 4 and 5 need to inform the registrants of the infringing domain name of the order immediately.
- There is immediate action mandatory for the Registrants of the domain names https://www.daburdistributor.com and https://daburdistributorships.in, as well as the domain name www.daburfranchisee.in, to cease using these names and remove the websites hosted on these domain names immediately. Additionally, the domain names of email addresses that appear on said websites will be deactivated
- The Defendants Nos.4 & 5 are also prohibited from allowing any third-parties to register domain names incorporating the mark/name 'DABUR', except the Plaintiff.
- The Plaintiff is permitted to introduce the registrants of the domain names as defendants in the lawsuit upon disclosure of the registrant's names.