Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited v. Manu Kosuri & Anr.
2001 (58) DRJ 241
• Plaintiff company was established in the year 1984 for research and development activity in the field of medicine
• Plaintiff company had registered a domain name ‘drreddys.com’.
• In the month of January, 1999, Plaintiff came to know that the Defendants are in the business of registering domain names in India and they registered a domain name as ‘drreddyslab’.
• Plaintiff instituted a suit for permanent injunction against the Defendants for passing off along with the relief of restraining the Defendants from registering a domain name or operating any business on the internet or otherwise under the domain name ‘drreddyslab.com’ or any trademark which is identical or deceptively similar to the Plaintiff’s trade mark DR. REDDY’S .
• Plaintiff company is the proprietor of the trademark ‘DR. REDDY’S’ by virtue of priority in adoption, continuous and extensive use and advertising and the reputation consequently accruing thereto in the course of trade.
• The Plaintiff company and its group companies have exclusively used ‘DR. REDDY’S’ as a trademark.
• DR. REDDY’S is always perceived as indicative of the source of the Plaintiff company and its other group companies.
• ‘DR. REDDY’S’ is a highly valuable intangible asset of Plaintiff company.
• The Defendants’ use of the impugned trademark/domain name ‘DR. REDDY’S’ is thus aimed at diverting the business of Plaintiff company and to earn easy, illegal and underserved profits by appropriating to themselves the goodwill, reputation and business of Plaintiff company.
Both the Defendants despite service of summons did not appear. There was no written statement on behalf of the Defendants in the suit.
• It is a settled legal position that when a Defendant does business under a name which is sufficiently close to the name under which the Plaintiff is trading and that name has acquired a reputation, the public at large is likely to be misled that the Defendant’s business is the business of the Plaintiff or is a branch or department of the Plaintiff and the Defendant is liable for an action in passing off.
• When the Plaintiffs and Defendants are engaged in common or overlapping fields of activity, the competition would take place and there is grave and immense possibility for confusion and deception and, therefore, there is probability of sufferance of damage.
• The domain name serves same function as the trademark and is not a mere address or like finding number of the Internet and, therefore, Plaintiff is entitled to equal protection as trade mark.
• It is clear that two names being almost identical or similar in nature, there is every possibility of an Internet user being confused and deceived in believing that both the domain names belong to Plaintiff although the two domain names belong to two different concerns.
Permanent Injunction was granted in favor of the Plaintiff.
Author: Anjali Bisht, Law College, Dehradun