High Court grants interim relief to New Balance Athletic Inc. against online counterfeiters
Recently in the case of New Balance Athletic Inc. v. Ashok Kumar Trading as www.myshoeshop.in, the Delhi High Court restrained the Defendant from selling counterfeit/fake products on their website www.myshoeshop.in. In addition to blocking the website, the Court also ordered blocking/suspension of the Defendant’s instagram page.
The Plaintiff, an American manufacturer of footwear since 1906 claimed rights over their marks “NEW BALANCE”, “NB Device Mark” and the “N Device Mark” and asserted that they have been using the letter “N” on their footwear since the year 1970 and the combination “NB” since the 1970s as well. They further claimed that their footwear is sold through retail stores owned/ operated/ franchised/ licensed by them across the world including in India. They also stated that they have been using the “New Balance” mark and the “N” (Device) mark on their footwear in India since 1986 and the “NB” (Device) mark since 1987. The Plaintiff further stated that their Indian subsidiary New Balance IT Services India Private Limited was incorporated in 2007 while New Balance India Private Limited was incorporated in January 2022. They also entered into a franchise agreement with an Indian brand with regards to their sales in the country.
The Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant No. 1 was allegedly engaged in selling “first copy” shoes on their website; www.myshoeshop.in. Apart from selling counterfeit goods of the Plaintiff’s products, they were also offering for sale, goods of other well-known brands such as Adidas and Louis Vuitton publicly displayed and stated as “first copies”.
Considering the Plaintiff’s claim, the Court granted an ad interim injunction in favor of the Plaintiff. The Court stated that, “Having perused the contents of the website, prima facie it is clear that the defendant no. 1 is not only violating the trade mark rights of the plaintiff, but other well-known brands as well.” The Court also directed internet service provider GoDaddy.com to provide registration details of the proprietors of the impugned website and block the same until further orders. In addition, the Court also directed that the instagram page @myshoeshop_ of the Defendant No.1 be blocked/suspended.
The matter has now been listed before the Court for November 09, 2022.
Counterfeiters have found a huge opportunity in the form of the online marketplace and are selling products through their website. A firm stance from the judiciary, such as the Delhi High Court’s decision in this case shows the willingness and promptness of the courts to act in favor of legitimate intellectual property rights holders who face infringement on a large scale through digital platforms. This case is also interesting to observe since one of the Plaintiff's marks is the single letter “N” (device). Perhaps this decision may pave the way for single letter alphabets to be given trademark protection in the future as well.
For any queries, please write to the author Ms. Vrinda Sehgal at firstname.lastname@example.org