14 August 2020Jurisdiction reportsNV Saisunder and S Vishaka

India jurisdiction report: Defending domain names

Domain names are an essential trademark asset and represent the virtual address of an organisation on the internet qua its brand which is the subject matter of the domain name.

In recent years, India has witnessed various cases of “cybersquatting” and ensuing domain name disputes in relation to .in, the Indian country code top-level domain (ccTLD).

Trademark owners can file cybersquatting complaints against .in ccTLDs under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP) which is administered by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI). Decisions from the outcome of such proceedings are binding and enforceable under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, as arbitral awards.

The INDRP and the procedures thereunder for resolution of .in domain name disputes is in line with internationally recognised practices for handling of domain name disputes under the widely recognised policies such as the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as applicable to generic TLDs (gTLDs) such as .com, .org, etc.

In order to succeed in a complaint under the INDRP the trademark owner has to prove the existence of all three essential elements in respect of the .in ccTLD under dispute:

The domain name of the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a name, trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;

The respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

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