The Delhi High Court has directed consultancy firm Google Enterprises Pvt Ltd and its associated entities to pays Rs 10 lakh as damages to tech-giant Google LLC for misusing its trademark.
Ruling in favour of Google LLC on its lawsuit to permanently restrain the defendants from infringing its trademark, Justice Sanjeev Narula observed that the defendants used the “Google” mark without due authorisation and indulged in “deception and trickery” as they “misrepresented to the public” that they were associated with Google India and had the modus operandi to dupe them.
The court added that the plaintiff company has valid and subsisting registrations for the “Google” mark and its variations and this has been declared a well-known mark with worldwide reputation on account of its extensive use and numerous.
Google LLC is surely entitled to statutory protection and grant of injunction for infringement and besides the damages of Rs 10 lakh, it is also entitled to actual costs in terms of the Commercial Courts Act and Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018 read with IPD Rules on the basis of “bill of costs”, the court thus opined.
“The present suit is accordingly decreed in favour of the plaintiff… damages of INR 10,00,000/- are awarded in favour of plaintiff, payable jointly and severally by defendants No. 1, 2 and 3 to plaintiff,” the court ordered in a decision passed last month.
The court also directed DoT to issue directions to all internet service providers and telecom service providers to block access to the website hosted on a domain name in violation of the “Google” mark.
The plaintiff told the court that in 2011, it learnt that a “concocted collaboration” had been announced between its “supposed India entity” and Tata Communications for a joint venture in the name of the defendant no. 2 E-Kutir Technology & Extension Management (P) Ltd, a Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) unit.
It argued said that all the defendants were acting in collusion with each other in furtherance of their unlawful activities and misrepresented their association with the plaintiff by misusing the “Google” trademark on their websites.
The court said none of the defendants controverted the plaintiff’s claims and no evidence has been produced to refute the allegations.
“The modus operandi of Defendants was to dupe members of the public into believing they would get a desk job on depositing money with Defendant No. 1 (Google Enterprises) and be employed with an entity supposedly associated with plaintiff,” observed the court.
“Such was the level of deception and trickery, that individuals reached out to Plaintiff inquiring on their association with the defendants on account of the publicity of said KPO unit and impugned websites of defendants,” it added.
The court stated that the marks displayed on defendants’ websites were entirely identical to the plaintiff’s mark and it was is clear that the defendants “have been acting in collusion” and “evidently want to freeride on plaintiff’s appeal in the global/ Indian market for unlawful monetary gain”.
“Thus, they deliberately misrepresented to the trade and public that they are carrying out their business in partnership/ affiliation with plaintiff, which was certainly not authorised or legitimate,” it added.
Considering the nature of unlawful use of the mark and the misrepresentation by defendants, court said, the plaintiff is entitled to nominal damages.