The IP arena saw a victory of right over wrong with the ones in the right getting asked for damages. India is not known as a jurisdiction where huge damages are awarded often. However, Justice S. Murlidhar of the Delhi High Court recently delivered a decision in a trademark and copyright infringement case which will hopefully change the prevailing trends and make it worthwhile for Intellectual property right owners to enforce their rights through litigation. The Plaintiffs in this case, in addition to obtaining a permanent injunction against the Defendants, were awarded a sum of one million Rupees as damages as was prayed.

The Plaintiffs, Living Media Limited & TV Today Network Limited filed the aforementioned suit against Mr. M. Hussain and others seeking permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from infringing the trademark of the Plaintiffs (‘AAJ TAK’) by using the trademark ‘SPEED AAJ TAK’, infringing the copyright of the Plaintiffs in the artistic representation of the words ‘AAJ TAK’ and directing the transfer of the domain name/website (www.speedaajtak.com) in favour of the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiffs are the proprietors of the well known trademark/logo ‘AAJ TAK’. AAJ TAK is one of the top rated news channels of India and the Plaintiffs have been using the trademark continuously and uninterruptedly since 1995. The Court was satisfied that the Defendant’s online news service under the mark ‘SPEED AAJTAK’ was intended to cause confusion and deception in the minds of consumers. Furthermore, not only consumers, but also sponsors of advertisements placed on the website of the Plaintiffs’ website (www.aajtak.com) were at risk of falling prey to the deception of the Defendants since they would be induced into placing advertisements on the website of the Defendants as well believing that they were dealing with the Plaintiffs.

The Court determined that in addition to the relief of permanent injunction, the Plaintiffs were also entitled to a decree for punitive damages against the Defendants. The Hon’ble High Court held “In the present case it is seen that the Defendants have been blatantly infringing the registered trademark and the copyright of the Plaintiffs' mark 'AAJ TAK' and commercially exploiting the goodwill and reputation attached to such mark. The Defendants are also involved in a fraud by issuing press membership cards with the trademark and logo 'AAJ TAK' of the Plaintiffs and thereby cheating the general public and authorities into thinking that the holder of such a pass is in fact a journalist associated with the Plaintiffs. Therefore apart from the need to stop such infringement on the ground that it causes irreparable damage to the Plaintiffs' reputation, it is also essential to do so in public interest and to deter such a brazen infringement of the Plaintiffs' trademark.”

Conclusion

  • If someone registers a domain name similar to your trademark, you may take action against him or her.
  • If you have a strong case, you may also be successful in obtaining damages that you ask for, along with the relief of injunction.
  • Before registering your domain name, file an application for registering your trademark.