New Delhi: The domain name ‘Googlee’ has gone to search engine major Google as the Delhi High Court held that it was registered in bad faith, and not a coincidence, by an entity.
The high court refused to interfere with the decision of an arbitrator ruling in favour of Google and transferred the domain name Googlee.in to the Internet major.
It also took a dig at the man for filing an appeal against the arbitrator’s decision, saying that perhaps it was wrong ‘Googlee’ by him in adopting the domain name Googlee.in.
“Is a ‘Googlee’ a wrong one? A cricket enthusiast will say, ‘Yes of course’. In the virtual world too, the answer is well, yes, petitioner Gulshan Khatri found to his consternation, when he used it as a domain name:’googlee.in’,” Justice S Muralidhar said.
Khatri had moved the high court challenging the May 2011 decision of the arbitrator, who had held that googlee.in, the domain name registered by him, was deceptively similar to the one registered by Google.
Interestingly, Justice Muralidhar in his judgment has put a screenshot of the home page of googlee.in to substantiate the claim of the parties and did not find any merit in the petitioner’s submission that ‘Googlee.in’ was not similar to ‘Google’. “The domain name and mark ‘google’ is a coined word, distinctive in nature, particularly in relation to the goods and services that it represents. The adoption by Khatri of a nearly identical mark/domain name ‘googlee.in’ is indeed in bad faith and not merely a coincidence.
“A glance at his web page shows how slavish his imitation is of Google’s writing style, font, colour scheme and layout,” the court said.
The court said that the petitioner was rightly stopped in his tracks by the arbitrator from continuing with his “misadventure”. “He could not have hoped to get away with exploiting Google’s goodwill and reputation by merely adding an ‘e’ to its domain name. Google rightly cried foul. The arbitrator declared Khatri out… Khatri stands bowled by his own ‘googlee’,” the judge added.
In 2007, Khatri applied to the .IN Registry, run by National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to register the domain name of his website, googlee.in. Before opening .IN domain names for registration to the general public, NIXI began with a sunrise period, during which trademark holders are allowed to register domain names which are similar to their own. Khatri got his domain name registered in 2008 and in 2010, it was renewed up till 2020.
Google Inc., US, in September 2010 issued cease and desist notice against him in 2010, claiming that apart from copying their trademark, his website also had a nearly identical writing style, font, colour scheme and layout.
After their legal notices to Khatri failed to get any reply, Google filed a complaint against him under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP). Following which, the arbitrator held in favour of Google, since Khatri had offered no shot, failing to offer any explanation for the fact that his website was virtually identical to Google’s, hence, the cancellation of googlee.in was directed.
In the challenge to this decision, Khatri, who claimed to be the sole proprietor of M/s TCI Web Gate, had made several points on privity of contract and natural justice.