In a recent case, Vedant Fashions Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Complainant’) filed a complaint before a sole arbitrator against Ravi (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Registrant/Respondent’), to transfer the domain name “manyavar.in” to Vedant Fashions Pvt. Ltd., which the sole arbitrator S. C. Inamdar found was registered with mala fides and with the ulterior motive of making profits at the disadvantage to the Complainant. The Sole Arbitrator granted the arbitral award as to entitle the disputed domain name to be transferred to Complainant and asked the Registrant/Respondent to play the cost of the arbitration proceedings to the Complainant.
Brief Facts and Background of the Case
The Complainant is engaged in the business of high-end readymade fashion apparels and accessories with a chain of 350 exclusive stores across 160 cities in India and also has international stores in U.S.A., U.A.E., Bangladesh, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia. Complainant is also the registered owner of the trademark ‘MANYAVAR’, similar and identical to which the Registrant/Respondent had registered the domain name “manyavar.in”.
On having tried to contact the Registrant/Respondent for sale of the domain name for Rs. 10,000/- plus reimbursement of costs towards registration and renewal of the domain name, the Complainant found themselves subjected to refusal to buy at this price and the negotiations failed thereafter. This complaint was then made before the Sole Arbitrator in Maharastra to which the Registrant/Respondent failed to submit any response.
Summary of the Complaint
The Complainant has also been concurrently fighting trademark infringement and passing off cases against the registrants of the domains ‘manyavar.co.in’, ‘manyavarblr.com’ and ‘manyavarjwellers.com’. Apart from these, the Complainant owns about 22 domain names either directly or beneficially, incorporating the word MANYAVAR in India and abroad, including the suffix— .com, .net, .info, .biz, .org, .co, .store, .online, .wedding etc.
The contentions of the Complainant included that there was a contravention of the registered trademark and domain names of the Complainant. The trade name ‘manyavar’ has been in continuous and extensive use for the past 17 years or so. The disputed domain name includes the Complainant’s registered trademark in its entirety. It is identical to the trademark and trade name and several websites of the Complainant, to which the Registrant/Respondent had no right or legitimate interest. The website address initially directs internet users to unrelated pages and finally to a parking page which contains pay-per-click advertisements and misleading links unrelated to the Complainant. Thus proving before the court that the said registration and the use were in bad faith and the Registrant/Respondent being a habitual cyber squatter who used to passively hold other registered domains named after well-known fashion designers.
Decision of the Sole Arbitrator
The Sole Arbitrator deciding in favor of the Complainant granted them the entitlement to the domain name “manyavar.in” and ordered for the same to be transferred to them. The Registrant/Respondent was also ordered to pay the cost of the arbitration proceedings. Concluding that the Registrant/Respondent had registered the domain name with mala fides and with the ulterior motive of making profits at the disadvantage to the complainant.
The Registrant/ Respondent having not filed any reply to the complaint or Notice of the Arbitration was presumed to have accepted the contents/allegations of the Complaint. The Sole Arbitrator also opined that no person having lawful rights in the domain name will keep mum and will not defend his case. It was found that the Registrant/Respondent did not have any registered trademark, or any other similar prior website or business mark containing the words or part thereof ‘manyavar’, and is neither known commonly by these words. It was the duty of the Registrant/Respondent to first verify if any similarity existed with existing domain names of others, and that ignorance of law is no excuse.
Also that if the use of the disputed domain name by the Registrant/Respondent is allowed in future, the same would be offered for sale at unreasonable consideration to the competitors of the Complainant. This might lead to business losses to the Complainant and would lead to damage to the Complainant’s goodwill and creditworthiness.