Whether the act of Respondent in registering the domain name Yahoo India, to offer services similar to those offered by Yahoo Inc, is an infringement of the trade mark of Yahoo Inc and amounts to passing-off under the relevant sections of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act?
In what is known till date as a Landmark judgment in cybersquatting, the Delhi High Court held that a domain name served the same function as a trademark and was therefore entitled to equal protection. As the domain names of the plaintiff ‘Yahoo!’ and defendant ‘Yahoo India!’, were nearly identical and phonetically similar, there was every possibility that internet users would be confused and deceived into believing that the domain names had a common source or a connection. The court further observed that the disclaimer used by the defendants was not sufficient because the nature of the Internet is such that use of a similar domain name cannot be rectified by a disclaimer, and that it did not matter that ‘yahoo’ is a dictionary word. The name had acquired uniqueness and distinctiveness and was associated with the plaintiff.
The Bombay High Court, in Rediff Communication v. Cyberbooth&Anr 2000 PTC 209 also observed that the value and importance of a domain name is like a corporate asset of a company.