Technology is at our fingertips today. At the ‘click’ of a button, we get the desired result that we want. It has become a silent best friend without whom human existence seems inconceivable. Nevertheless, there is always a point when, honey too can be poisonous and that’s how technology is to be perceived as well. Too much of anything is bad and it’s the worst when it is being unscrupulously copied.

The current case is a classic story of conscious copying of the domain name. Before proceeding further, dealing with the meaning and definition of the word domain name is important. Domain name is the name of the website. In simple words, just like how every person is attributed with a specific and unique name, similarly, the websites too have a name of their own! And this ‘name’ is called as the Domain Name.

The main function of a domain name is to find and identify the computer on the Internet. These computers use IP addresses, which are a series of numbers. However, since it is strenuous for humans to remember a string of numbers the system of domain names was developed. Thus, they started to identify entities on the internet instead of using IP addresses. A domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers, and it can be used in combination of the various domain name extensions, such as ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and more.

It is essential to register a domain name before using it because every domain name is unique and distinctive to a particular company, person, holder or owner of a domain name. If observed closely, no two websites can and will have the same domain name. When someone types in, it will go to that particular company, person, holder or owner’s website and no one else. This creates an uncommon and isolated connect between the brand and the domain name.

Brief facts of the case

5AM Ventures LLC (hereinafter The Complainant) has been using the ‘5AM VENTURES’ trademark in its business name ever since its inception in 2002 and owns multiple trademark registrations for the 5AM VENTURES trademark in numerous jurisdictions including India, Canada, European Union, Switzerland and United States of America, the first of which was registered in 2008. The profile and popularity of the Complainant’s services under the 5AM VENTURES trademark has increased continuously since the date of adoption and use of the trademark. Presently, the Complainant’s trademark is identified by the relevant segment of the public exclusively with the Complainant, by virtue of tremendous amount of promotion and has acquired enormous goodwill and reputation across the globe.

It came to the notice of the Complainant that one Mr. Altaf (hereinafter the Respondent), registered the same mark,, in their own name and thus, filed a complaint, before the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) which is the ‘.in’ registry under the Indian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP), against the same. Upon further pursual, it was found that the Respondent, too, is engaged in providing the same services, that is, Venture Capital services and is soliciting investments in its portfolio companies. However, throughout the dispute, the Respondent had claimed and argued that he was ‘unaware’ of the existence of the domain name and did not ‘intend’ to copy. Yet, this was dismissed, by the Complainant, on the ground that, the copyright notice link (at the end of the webpage) in the website of the Respondent directs the users to the Complainant’s domain name Additionally, the Complainant was able to establish ‘prior usage’, usage for a time even before the Respondent, consequently boosting their case merit. Ergo, this was considered as infringement as it had the capacity to confuse customers regarding the original owner of the brand.

Analysis of the Case

As can be seen, it is a clear and shut case whereby the Respondent had lost the war even before the battle had begun due to his delinquent actions. Right from the beginning, the claim of the Respondent’s ‘unawareness’ was unconvincing and dubious.

When comparing any trademark the first thing done is comparing it aesthetically. Simply out, one would see whether the trademark looks alike or not. If a general consumer saw the mark, would they get confused, is the first thing that is looked at. Which owner would they relate the mark to (the origin), is the quintessential question in case of determining trademark infringements. Similarly, in the current case too, a mere glance at the domain name,, gives rise to a large amount of confusion in the mid of the viewer. This is particularly, in relation to the origin of the Trademark. Thus, it can be further proved that the Respondent had a malafide intention to imitate the Complainant’s registered domain name without any change whatsoever.

Secondly, the repetitive claim of ‘unawareness’ was not a valid one primarily on the ground that the copyright notice link (at the end of the webpage) in the website of the Respondent directed the users to the Complainant’s domain name This was done with a hope and expectation that users searching for the Complainant, would instead come across the disputed domain’s website. Consequently, this shows that the Respondent had a very clear intention, and a malafide one too, I add once again, to use the reputation and goodwill of the Complainant.

Lastly, the Respondent did not have any authorization to use the mark. This unwarranted and unlicensed usage by the Respondent leads to say that the Respondent wanted to fraudulently mislead the public by giving a false impression that the Respondent is associated with the Complainant’s company. Wherefore, it can be proved that the Respondent acted with a malafide intention and in bad faith so as to trade in the name of the Complainant.

According to Rule 4 of INDRP Rules, there are three conditions under which the Arbitrator can order a transfer of the Domain name to the Complainant from the Respondent. They are as follows:

  1. The domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark
  2. The Respondent does not have any right or legitimate interest in the domain name
  3. The domain name in question should have been registered and been used in bad faith

If seen closely, the Respondent in the current case satisfies these conditions and additionally the Complainant too, has proved these conditions beyond reasonable doubt and therefore, the Arbitrator passed the order in favour of the complainant. This move is just and fair, meeting the ends of justice.