Bar association wins three-year battle over 'court' domain names

India

In Delhi High Court Bar Association v Chandwani (Case 2294 of 1999), the Delhi High Court has ordered the cancellation of the domain names 'DelhiHighCourt.com' and 'DelhiLowerCourt.com', and restrained cybersquatter Deepak Chandwani from registering or using any other domain names containing the words 'high court' or 'lower court' in future.

The Delhi High Court Bar Association filed a suit against Chandwani three years ago when it learned that he had registered the two disputed domain names. The bar association argued that:

  • Chandwani's registrations were a violation of Indian law;

  • it had intended to register the domain names in order to disseminate information relating to the Delhi High Court and lower courts; and

  • there was ample scope for Chandwani to use the domain names to host websites containing incorrect or even malicious information about the judiciary.

The Delhi High Court ruled in the bar association's favour, finding that Chandwani's registration of the domain names violated the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950. This act provides that the unauthorized use of any name or emblem set out in Schedule 17 in a manner that suggests an affiliation with the Indian government is a punishable offence.

In addition to ordering the cancellation of the two disputed domain names, the court issued a permanent injunction preventing Chandwani from registering, using or offering for sale similar domain names incorporating the words 'high court' or 'lower court'.

Pravin Anand and Rodney Ryder, Anand & Anand, India

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