Delhi High Court grants Interim Injunction against rogue website offering distributorship of HUL
Recently in the case of Hindustan Unilever Limited v. Nitin Kumar Singh & Ors., the Delhi High Court restrained the Defendants from using the marks “HINDUSTAN UNILEVER”, “HUL” and “U” logo used by the Plaintiff in the Indian territory exclusively.
The Plaintiff, A well-renowned FMCG company claimed that the Defendants offered distributorship of the Plaintiff’s products by creating websites using the Plaintiff’s name/trademark(s)/logo/trade dress/domain name so as to give an impression to the general public that the Defendants were somehow connected to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff further claimed that these illegal activities of the Defendants caused financial loss to the public who engaged in financial transactions with the Defendants in lieu of acquiring distributorship of the Plaintiff’s products. Moreover, the Plaintiff also alleged that the websites of the Defendants were “vehicles for cheating and playing fraud” causing irreparable loss to the innocent members of the public.
It is also worth noting that the internet and telecom service providers were also enlisted as Defendants in this case. In fact, the Plaintiff also filed this case against the email service provider “Gmail” as well as the Banks in which the Defendants had bank accounts which were used to facilitate the illegal activities of the Defendants.
In light of the evidence provided, the Court granted an interim injunction stating that the Plaintiff had made out a prima facie case in its favour. The Court restrained the Defendants from using the said marks of the Plaintiff and also ordered the websites of the Defendants to be blocked. The Court ordered freezing of the bank accounts and email accounts used by the Defendants to engage in the infringing activities and directed the Ministry of Information Technology to issue notices to the telecom and internet service providers to block access to the identified websites, mobile number and email addresses. Lastly, the Court also ordered the Special Cyber Cell branch of the Delhi Police to further investigate the matter and deal with it expeditiously within 4 weeks and provide the necessary information regarding the user details required by the Plaintiff in this suit. Finally, the Court also ordered the Special Cyber Cell unit to provide a status report in the matter before the Court.
This case is a classic example of modern-day trademark infringement which involves use of rogue websites via fraudulently registered domain names, email addresses and even bank accounts and mobile numbers. In order to prevent trademark infringement and deter defendants, the way forward is the approach taken by the Delhi High Court because it becomes essential to identify as well as fully restrain the Defendants by blocking access to their email address, mobile numbers as well as bank accounts. A strong-handed approach such as the one taken in this case is essential to prevent such infringement of intellectual property rights.