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The Delhi High Court’s Justice S Muralidhar has upheld the decision of an arbitrator in a domain name infringement complaint made by Google.
The petitioner Gulshan Khatri appealed against the decision of the arbitrator, who held that googlee.in, the domain name registered by Khatri, was deceptively similar to the one registered by Google.
Muralidhar J begins his judgment on a rather witty note, stating,
“Is a “Googlee” a “wrong one”? A cricket enthusiast will say, “Yes of course.” In the virtual world too, the answer is well, yes, as the Petitioner, Mr. Gulshan Khatri found to his consternation, when he used it as a domain name: ‘googlee.in’.”
In 2007, Khatri applied to the .IN Registry, run by National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to register the domain name of his website, googlee.in. Before opening .IN domain names for registration to the general public, NIXI began with a sunrise period, during which trademark holders are allowed to register domain names which are similar to their own. Khatri got his domain name registered in 2008, and in 2010, it was renewed up till 2020.
Google then warned Khatri for running on the pitch, issuing a cease and desist notice against him in 2010, claiming that apart from copying their trademark, his website also had a nearly identical writing style, font, colour scheme and layout. Quite interestingly, the judgment has a screenshot of the home page of googlee.in to substantiate this. Here is a screenshot of that screenshot.
After their legal notices to Khatri fell on deaf ears, Google filed a complaint against him under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP). The arbitrator held in favour of Google, since Khatri had offered no shot, failing to offer any explanation for the fact that his website was virtually identical to Google’s. Hence, the cancellation of googlee.in was directed.
In the challenge to this decision, the petitioner’s counsel Kajal Sharma made several points on privity of contract and natural justice, which the Court found no merit in.
Therefore, the referral was wasted, and the court upheld the decision of the arbitrator.
“Mr Khatri was rightly stopped in his tracks by the Arbitrator from continuing with his misadventure. He could not have hoped to get away with exploiting Google’s goodwill and reputation by merely adding an ‘e’ to its domain name. Google rightly cried foul. The Arbitrator declared Mr Khatri out. The Court’s DRS concurs. Mr Khatri stands bowled by his own ‘googlee’.”
Read the judgment: