Domain Name Registries won’t be given ‘safe harbour’

The Delhi High Court in the case proceedings related to Snapdeal Private Limited v Go Daddy Com LLC & Ors., has ruled that Domain Name RegistriesRegistries, when providing trademark infringement domain name at a profit, won’t be granted ‘safe harbour’. Too difficult to grasp? Ok, let me answer you in a simple way. 

The Plaintiff, i.e., Snapdeal had approached the court over domain names that were similar to Snapdeal’s name. However, the Plaintiff had not filed the complaint against the domain name owners. Rather, it named the Domain Name Registries in the lawsuit, providing such services to third parties. 

The Plaintiff presented that domain names infringing upon its rights were continuously being registered and the Domain Name Registries not only facilitated this infringement, but even gained extra profit from such registrations. The domain names that were related to the Plaintiff were costlier than other domain names. 

The Respondent, claimed that the domain name registration and pricing was automated and it has no control over it. The Respondent claimed that it was merely an intermediary. The Respondent, thus sought protection under section 79 of the IT Act. 

The court in the decision noted that Domain Name Registries were indeed an intermediary. However, the Respondent had been providing trademark infringing domain names related to the Plaintiff and was also deriving extra benefit from it. 

The Court also rejected the Respondent claim that it had no control over the alternative domain names. Court found that any domain even remotely related to ‘Go Daddy’ was unavailable. Thus, proving that DNR does have control over these domain names. 

The Court decided that when an intermediary takes on a course of action that is beyond the scope of an intermediary, then in that case, safe harbour under Article 79 of the IT Act couldn’t be given. 

The court granted the first part of the Plaintiff’s demand, i.e., to cancel the registration of all the infringing domain names. However, the Court didn’t prohibit the Respondent from registering future domain names related to the Plaintiff. The Court noted that each case needed to be studied on its own merit.


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