High Court: Amazon directed to remove ROOH AFZA branded products not originating from Hamdard India
The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the case of Hamdard National Foundation (India) & Anr. V. Amazon India Limited & Anr. has directed Amazon India to remove listings of famous 'ROOH AFZA' products not originating from the indigenous Hamdard Group, thereby granting an ad-interim injunction in favor of the Plaintiff.
The present suit was instituted by Hamdard National Foundation (India) and Hamdard Dawakhana (hereinafter the “Plaintiffs”) against Amazon India Limited and M/s. Golden Leaf alleging unauthorized sale of products bearing the Plaintiff's mark “ROOH AFZA”.
It was the case of the Plaintiffs that they came across the listing of products bearing the mark “ROOF AFZA” on amazon’s website under the name ‘M/s. Golden Leaf’. The contact details of M/s. Golden Leaf’ were shown as ‘C/o Amazon Sellers Services Pvt. Ltd’. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs effected purchases of the products bearing the mark “ROOF AFZA” and were shocked to be informed that the same were not manufactured by the Plaintiffs.
The Plaintiffs alleged that the products purchased by them were manufactured by one 'Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf), Pakistan, allegedly originating from Karachi, Pakistan. It was further contended by the Plaintiffs that apart from the name of the manufacturer, there were no other details of the manufacturer mentioned on the product. Apart from the aforementioned contentions, the Plaintiff also alleged that it was unclear to them as to how these infringing products were being imported from Pakistan when clearly the Plaintiffs have statutory rights in the marks in India.
Findings of the Court
At the outset, the Court, while upholding the goodwill and reputation associated with the trademark “ROOH AFZA” observed that “Clearly, ‘ROOH AFZA’ is a product which has been consumed by the Indian public for over a century now. The same being a drink for human consumption, the quality standards have to comply with the applicable regulations prescribed by the FSSAI and LMA”. The Court also expressed its concern regarding the impugned listing of “ROOH AFZA” products on the website of Amazon India and held that “It is surprising that an imported product is being sold on www.amazon.in platform without the complete details of the manufacturer being disclosed. Moreover, when one clicks on the link ‘Visit the Hamdard Store’, which is provided next to the product listing of Defendant No.2, the consumer is taken to the webpage of CS (COMM) 607/2022 Page 7 of 9 ‘Hamdard Laboratories India’ on www.amazon.com, which is of the Plaintiffs. Thus, any consumer or user on the www.amazon.in platform is likely to confuse the ‘ROOH AFZA’ product originating from Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf), Pakistan as being connected to or originating from the Plaintiffs. Until and unless the consumer actually receives the product, the consumer has no way of knowing as to whether the product being sold is that of the Plaintiffs or not. This can have an adverse impact on the consumers, inasmuch as the details of the sellers are not known”.
While noting that Amazon India is an intermediary, the Court held that “since www.amazon.in claims to be an intermediary, it has an obligation to disclose names of sellers, their contact details etc., on the product listings”. Accordingly, Amazon India has been directed to file an affidavit clarifying the details of the sellers, complete addresses and the contact details which are mentioned on the ROOH AFZA product listings.
Moreover, the following additional directions were issued by the Court:
1. The listings of infringing ‘ROOH AFZA’ products on the website www.amazon.in not originating from the Plaintiffs were directed to be removed within 48 hours. It was also instructed by the court that if the Plaintiffs have details of the said URLs, such details shall be submitted to Amazon India;
2. Amazon India was also directed to check up as to who are the sellers who are selling ‘ROOH AFZA’ products on its platform and if any of the said products are found not to be originating from the Plaintiffs, their listings were directed to be removed immediately;
3. If any of the product listings show the products are manufactured or originating from the Plaintiffs, in such a situation, www.amazon.in was directed to give notice to the said seller to confirm that the same originate from the Plaintiffs and if so, such listings shall be retained;
4. The Court noted that since Amazon Sellers claims to be an intermediary under the Information Technology Act, 2000, it was directed to file an affidavit clarifying as to whether the details of the sellers, including the place of manufacturing of the products, the complete address of the sellers, and the contact details, including the telephone number, email address etc. are mentioned on the ROOH AFZA product listings, invoices, product labels etc. If the same are not available on the product listings, Amazon Sellers was further instructed to clarify in what manner consumers expected to obtain such details from www.amazon.in platform;
5. Amazon Sellers was directed to provide the details of the sellers of all the ‘ROOH AFZA’ product listings on its website to the Plaintiffs, within one week, who may then take steps in accordance with law for impleadment, etc., if so advised;
The Plaintiffs were permitted to inform Amazon Sellers of any listings which they may come across even in the future, in respect of ‘ROOH AFZA’ branded products which are not manufactured and sold by the Plaintiffs so that the same can be immediately removed from the website within 48 hours of the intimation.
The present case serves as an important step in the developing jurisprudence of the e-commerce space as well as intermediary liability. In a virtual marketplace, where buyer and seller interactions are limited to the services offered by the world wide web, regulating this space is the need of the hour. Particularly, the directions issued by the court to amazon India to clarify as to in what manner are the consumers expected to obtain significant details from their platform, are dominant in ensuring that these platforms don’t transform into “anonymous markets” for vulnerable consumers.
For any queries, please contact Ms. Ankita Sabharwal at firstname.lastname@example.org.