In the case of Adobe Inc. v. Namase Patel and Ors., the Delhi High Court awarded the plaintiff, Adobe, Rs. 2,00,01,000/- in damages against Namase Patel, Defendant, recognised as a frequent cyber squatter by the Court. Cyber-squatting is the practice of registering names, especially well-known company or brand names, as internet domains, in the hope of reselling them for a profit. The Delhi High Court passed a decree of permanent injunction against the Defendant from registering any domain names that would infringe on the Plaintiff’s trademarks “ADOBE”, “PHOTOSHOP”, and “SPARK”.
The Plaintiff, a US-based company, filed a suit claiming that Defendant’s use of the domain names www.addobe.com and www.adobee.com was an infringement of their trademark. Such similarity was also alleged to have allowed the Defendant to pass off his services as those of the Plaintiff’s. Plaintiff also claimed that the Defendant was using a “catch-all” e-mail service provided by Above.com, wherein the recipient of the service could access any e-mail that may misspell the domain name. In pursuance of these allegations, the Plaintiff sought internet and telecom service providers to block access to the websites of the Defendant and disable their services.
The Delhi High Court held that there was no dispute that the Defendant had infringed the Plaintiff’s mark, within the meaning of Section 29 of the Trademarks Act 1999, on the ground that the domain names used by the Defendant were “confusingly similar” to that of the Plaintiff’s. The court also relied on the orders of the National Arbitration Forum and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre, as submitted by the Plaintiff, supporting the fact that the Defendant was an inveterate cyber squatter and had frequently indulged in infringing well-known domain names before. The court also took note of the Defendant’s absence from the proceedings since the issuance of summons; therefore, the matter proceeded ex parte.
In lieu of the above, the court passed a decree permanently restraining the Defendant from using the Plaintiff’s trademarks in his domain names as well as blocking access to the websites infringing on Adobe’s trademarks. The court also restrained the Defendant from disclosing any confidential information about the Plaintiff. In addition, it directed the transfer of the domain names www.addobe.com and www.adobee.com to the Plaintiff to prevent further misuse. Moreover, the Court took cognizance of the fact that Defendant had been considered a habitual cyber-squatter and domain name infringer even outside the country, thereby awarding INR two crores against the Defendant, to deter such actions in the future.