What is cybersquatting in the Indian Trademark Act?

Businesses can sustain themselves when they capture a particular market share allowing them to trade their goods or services. Some businesses establish their own unique identity, but some struggle to cope with the market competition. But eventually, the primary motive of all business operators remains the same, which is to earn profits.

At present, most businesses reach their customers through online platforms, which are fast and reliable. But using online platforms has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is easy to access and has better customer reach and rapid responses. On the other hand, such platforms are not secure from those ready to go the extra mile to earn, even if it’s not lawful.

Cybercrimes are not a new concept but are increasing rapidly with new-age technology and the easy availability of the internet and systems. This article discusses one cybercrime, “Cyber Squatting,” regarding the Trademarks Act.

What is the concept of Cybersquatting?

Delhi High Court defined cybersquatting in the case of "Manish Vij v. Indra Chugh”. The definition states that cybersquatting is an act of acquiring a deceitful registration of a domain name with the motive of selling such domain name to the legal owner of the name at a high price.

How does Cybersquatting take place?

  • Cybersquatting begins with a domain name.
  • The domain name is registered using the same or confusingly similar name of another registered under trademark.
  • With the intent of making illegal profits, the person who registered the domain name then offers to sell such domain to the legal owner of the trademark. 
  • Such transactions are done at prices higher than usual because the registered trademark owner cannot register his trademark under the domain as it is already registered.
  • This is how the offender infringes the right of the original trademark holder to use his registered.trademark.

What are the remedies available against Cybersquatting?

No specific law has yet been established for cybersquatting in the country. But in India, such cases have been dealt with under the Trademarks Act, 1991, where two remedies are available as Remedy of infringement and Remedy of passing off. 

Apart from these remedies, the victim can also initiate proceedings under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which acts as a Dispute Resolution authority in connection with registration and use of domain names.

Cybercriminals infringe the rights of the original trademark owner by restraining the owner from using his trademark and taking advantage of his goodwill in the market. Many countries have established laws against cybersquatting, and it is not uncertain that India also needs to introduce strict laws against such offenses.

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