Deceptive similarity in a passing-off action.

The Supreme Court held that it is insignificant whether the plaintiff and the defendant trade in the same field or in the same or similar products. The court laid down certain criteria to determine passing off of an unregistered trademark: The nature of the marks (word, label or composite); The degree of resemblance between the marks;/ • The nature of goods for which the marks are used; • Similarities in the nature, character and performance of goods of rival traders; • The class of purchasers who are likely to buy goods bearing the marks; • The method of purchasing the goods or placing orders; and • Other circumstances that may be relevant. 1. Yahoo!, Inc. v. Akash Arora & Anr The first landmark judgment on cybersquatting. The Delhi High Court, for the first time ever in India, held that a domain name serves the same function as trademark and is entitled to equal protection. The defendant had a domain name ‘Yahoo India!’ which was identical and phonetically similar to the plaintiff’s trademark ‘Yahoo!’. The court held that internet users would be confused and deceived into believing that both the domain names have the same source. The defendant took a defense that it had put a disclaimer on its website. However, it was observed that a mere disclaimer was not sufficient because the nature of the internet is such that use of a similar domain name Top of FormBottom of Formcannot be rectified by a disclaimer and it does not matter that ‘yahoo’ is adictionary word. The name possesses acquired distinctiveness and uniqueness and was largely associated with the plaintiff.

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