Thursday, March 19, 2009

ITC evicts squatter from Indian Domain Name

ITC Ltd has won the case against a cybersquatter who had registered the domain name of its flagship brand Wills. Under the provisions of the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP), ITC alleged and proved that the domain name registered by UK-based cybersquatter Mark Segal of, was identical to its trademark and misleading as to its origin.

Says Rodney D Ryder, Partner and Head of the Technology Practice at Law Firm Kochhar & Co, which represented the Kolkata-headquartered company, “The domain name is the virtual address of a company, a web mark so to speak. Allowing this domain name registration would be harmful to the ITC/Wills brand as this could also have serious consequences for the company under the Amended Information Technology Act of 2000.” Under the provisions of this act, if a corporate body does not take reasonable security measures to safeguard its data, it could be held liable for any lapse in its data security. The company will be liable to pay compensation up to Rs 5 crore to the parties who has been caused wrongful loss due to deficiency in the security measures adopted by the company.

Registrations under the .in domain have been open since February 2005. Till now, 5 lakh Indian top level domain name extensions have been registered. It is expected in 2 years to cross to 10 lakh registrations. There have been 79 domain name disputes been resolved so far by through The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) under the INDRP. Under the Trademarks Act and the Indian Arbitration & Conciliation Act of 1996 cybersquatting disputes are required to be resolved within 45 days up to two months.

Cybersquatting does not only lead to the dilution and/or tarnishment of the brand; if brand owners continue to ignore these sites, such acquiesce could act as a limitation to infringement/cybersquatting actions in the future. Also, this could morph into a phishing or vishing scam or some other dangerous instance of cyber fraud. The domain names should rightfully belong to the brand owner.

In addition, with the enactment of the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008, the organisation under various provisions has the responsibility to ensure that ‘...reasonable security measures’ are put in place. The organisation could be liable in the event that it ‘acquiesces’ or ‘allows’ its intellectual property or corporate identity to be misused.

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