Recently, the Delhi High Court on July 3, 2017 in the case of Yahoo Inc vs Mr Rinshad Rinu & Ors., directed payment of INR 5 lakh as damages to US based Yahoo Inc, for trademark infringement by a website called ‘YahooKochi’. The Court restrained the website from using its trademark or any other deceptively similar mark.  

Brief Background

Mr. Rinshad Rinu & Others (hereinafter collectively referred to as ‘the Defendants’) operated under the trademark “YahooKochi”, which was unquestionably similar to Yahoo Inc’s (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Plaintiff’) trademark YAHOO, registered in various classes. Present suit was filed for permanent injunction restraining the Defendant no. 1 to 5 from;

  1. offering services and advertising using the Yahoo trademark; 
  2. passing off their services as the Plaintiff’s;
  3. operating the website www.yahookochi.com;
  4. diluting and tarnishing the Plaintiff’s trademarks by virtue of their below par services

The Plaintiff also prayed to the Court to pass an order directing Defendant no. 6, GoDaddy.com, the Registrar of the domain name <yahookochi.com>, to suspend the operation of the said domain.

The Court vide its order dated October 20, 2015, granted an ex parte ad interim inunction in favor of the Plaintiff. The Defendants no.1 to 5 were restrained from using the mark YAHOO in relation to the trademark as well as domain name obtained by them, and Defendant no.6 was directed to suspend the domain name within one week from the date of receipt of order.

Since, the Defendants refrained themselves from appearing, they were proceeded ex parte and the ex parte injunction was confirmed.

Issue

Whether the Defendant infringed the Plaintiff’s YAHOO trademark?

Contentions: Plaintiff

The Counsel submitted that the registered trademark YAHOO, which was well recognized and reputed, was owned by the Plaintiff. Referring to the website ‘www.yahookochi.com’ and also to the logo used by the Defendant which was strikingly similar to the old logo used by the Plaintiff, it was contended that the Defendants clearly infringed the trademark in question. It was brought to the Court’s attention that the Defendants refused to change their name, even after the Plaintiff’s notice dated May 23, 2015.

Judgment

The Court held that the Plaintiff operated various websites under its YAHOO trademark and that the mark used by Defendants was dishonest. It further stated that the font used by the Defendants to represent YAHOO in their trading name was identical to the unique stylized font which the Plaintiff used to represent its YAHOO trade mark till 2014. It was concluded that the potentiality of the mark was enormous on the internet as the Plaintiff had a wide internet presence. The Court thus established infringement of the Plaintiff’s trademark. The Court assessed the cost at INR 4,91,114 (approx. USD 7675) and awarded compensatory damages of INR 2 lacs (approx. USD 3125), and punitive damages worth INR 3 lacs (approx. USD 4688) to the Plaintiff.