India TV, the news and current affairs channel, has recently won a partial victory in an Internet domain case against a US-based firm. The case was adjudicated by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Delhi High Court. While the judgment protects the petitioner’s case that India TV is a distinctive mark, at the same time it also allowed the US-based firm to use the domain name ‘indiatvlive.com’ with a disclaimer.
In its petition, India TV had alleged that the Internet domain, indiatvlive.com, used by India Broadcast Live (IBL), was similar to its trademark. India TV had also averred that the defendants were attempting to represent themselves as the plaintiff or representative of the plaintiff. India TV had alleged that the registration of the impugned domain name by the defendants constitute infringement, passing off and dilution of the plaintiff’s trademark, besides unfair competition.
In an interim order delivered by Justice Kaul in January this year, IBL was restrained from using any domain name containing the words ‘India TV’, and also barred from transferring the rights to any other entity.
Significantly, in its judgment this month, the High Court has also restrained the defendants from proceeding against India TV in the suit it had filed in the district court in Arizona, USA. The court has also directed the US-based firm to file six-monthly statement of revenue earned from the impugned website in India.
While the HC has permitted the defendants to use the domain name, it also asked them to use a disclaimer to be placed prominently next to the logo of indiatvlive.com. The court said the disclaimer should read: “The website has no connection, affiliation or association whatsoever with India TV.”
However, the court observed that the defendants had already shifted to another domain name, indiabroadcastlive.com. “Thus, the respondents have rectified the position,” Justice Kaul said in his order, adding that in view of the aforesaid, it does not deem appropriate to proceed further with the petition.
The court observed that when the impugned domain name is typed, the person browsing is redirected to ‘indiabroadcastlive.com’, which is another domain name of the US-based firm. It also noted that a redirection notice appears which states that the website is not operational due to interim orders passed, and surfers are automatically redirected to indiabroadcastlive.com.
Welcoming the High Court’s decision, IBL Inc., in a press statement, called it “a historic judgment as well as reaffirmation of people’s faith in the fair judicial process”. It also said that “the larger suit is still very much alive and will be decided in due course”.
"Further, it may be noted that as of July 23, 2007, the domain registrar has lifted the 'domain lock' and restored full operations back to IBL in compliance of the court order of July 10," the statement said.