Delhi High Court recently passed a John Doe order in connection with the trademark infringement suit filed by Dabur. The plaintiff had alleged that various domain names and websites have started using the name and trademark ‘DABUR’ in an attempt to pass off as the plaintiff.
Justice Prathiba M Singh noted that the plaintiff has successfully made out a prima facie case and grave loss will be caused if no interim relief will be granted.
“Irreparable loss will be caused to the plaintiff if an ex-parte injunction is not passed in favour of the plaintiff. The loss to the public is also incalculable,” High Court bench said.
The court ordered blocking of three such websites which include https://www.daburdistributor.com, https://daburdistributorships.in, and www.daburfranchisee.in.
The John Doe order directs the Centre government to issue directions to all Internet Service Provides (ISPs) to block all websites bearing the mark ‘Dabur’ except the plaintiff’s.
John Doe orders are blanket cease and desist injunctions which are issued against unknown persons. These orders are a kind of pre-infringement injunction used to safeguard the creator’s intellectual property rights in artistic works such as movies and songs.
In the suit, Dabur had sought permanent injunction and damages in respect of infringement of its various intellectual properties, including the trademark ‘DABUR’ copyright in the labels and packaging of its various products, passing off and unfair competition.
In the present case, several domains were allegedly using the name ‘Dabur’. Impersonating to be Dabur, the infringers were offering franchisees and were asking distributors to register themselves for being appointed as agents for selling Dabur products.
Considering it a bigger threat to the reputation that Dabur has maintained since 1884, it has sought relief.
In absence of the clarity in the names of infringers who are using the name ‘Dabur’ as they were protected due to privacy concerns, plaintiff had sought John Doe orders.
Therefore, it had sought directions against ISPs and the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to block those offending websites.
The bench said that the mark DABUR is a well known trademark in India as it was coined in 1884 having more than 150 years old reputation and the goodwill in the plaintiff’s business is unquestionable.
The High Court bench added that use of all the aforementioned domain names and hosting of websites in a manner so as to deceive the general public as also small businesses should not be permitted.
“The legal rights of the plaintiff are severely affected by the use of the mark ‘DABUR’, as also various logo of various products and images thereof. Moreover, apart from the rights of the plaintiff, which are being infringed, it would also not be in public interest to permit these domain names and websites to operate, so as to continue to deceive and cheat the general public in India and abroad,” the court said.
Delhi High Court also noted that such practices of hiding or masking details of the registrants who hold domain name is increasingly being resorted to by persons to impinge upon the owners of trademarks and names.
The matter has been listed for hearing on April 25.
Directions Issued By Delhi High Court
- Defendant Nos. 4 and 5 (registrars) shall immediately block the domain names, as also the websites. Status quo shall be maintained in respect of the said domain names and the same shall be locked with immediate effect. The Defendant 4 and 5 are restrained from transferring the said domain names or creating any third party interest on the same.
- Defendant No. 2 and 3 i.e. DoT and MEITY shall issue directions to all ISPs to block the said websites as also any other websites, except the Plaintiff’s websites, bearing the mark ‘DABUR’.
- Defendant No. 4 and 5 shall also disclose to counsel for plaintiff and file affidavit before this court as to the details of the registrants or the persons who have registered the above-mentioned domain names along with their complete contact details, postal address, email address, bank account details, and telephone number, etc. Let the said affidavit be filed within one week from receipts of the copy of the infringing domain names.
- The registrants of the infringing domain names must cease all use of the domain names and pull down the websites from the host.
- Defendant 4 and 5 are also restrained from allowing any third-party, apart from the plaintiff, from registering domain names using the mark/name ‘Dabur’.
- Defendant 6 and 14 i.e. the internet services providers shall give effect to this order immediately.
- Upon the disclosure of names of restraints of domain names, the plaintiff is permitted to implead them as the defendant in the present suit. In case the plaintiff comes across any order domain names or websites with the mark DABUR, they are permitted to approach the court with an application of appropriate relief.