17 Sep 2009

Arun Jaitley: A tryst with Cyber squatting

"It appears that registering a domain in cyber space in one's name is not easy, as Mr. Arun Jaitley, the Plaintiff recently discovered", notes Delhi High Court in its recent order on the petition of Mr. Jaitley who approached the Court challenging the action of another, for having booked the domain name "www.arunjaitley.com" for itself. 

Though only prima facie (and not conclusively determinative), the observations of the High Court are really intriguing. It noted, 
"The present suit raises very significant questions in the realm of intellectual property law concerning the protection that a person is entitled to, particularly when the person's name had acquired distinctiveness, goodwill and reputation. It also raises an important question whether the right to one's own name is part of the bundle of 'personal' rights enshrined in the right to life under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and Article 17 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. Is a person entitled to protection of such a right and all other rights incidental to and stemming from that right viz., the rights to publicity and to privacy. It appears to this Court that the Plaintiff has more than a stateable prima facie case." "The Plaintiff has prima facie demonstrated, with the help of all several documents, that Defendant No.3 is 'squatting' on his name with the intention of exploiting it for profit. If not injuncted, the domain name www.arunjaitley.com could well be 'purchased' by any person. Such person could then use it for any purpose detrimental to the goodwill and reputation of the Plaintiff. The balance of convenience in restraining the Defendants from transferring, alienating or offering for sale the domain name 'arunjaitley.com' to any third party and from creating any third party interest in the said domain name 'arunjaitley.com' appears to be in favour of the Plaintiff at this stage."
Being of this view, the Court granted an injunction against the defendants from allowing any one to purchase the said domain name. The issue is indeed interesting for there haven't been many cases in India dealing with Cyber-squatting. What is more interesting is the fact that the cases is representing by eminent intellectual property lawyers from both sides. One will have to wait the final outcome of the suit and hope that the law on the issue get a clarity.

Have a look at the full text of the order (becomes relevant from paragraph 13 onwards)

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