February 15, 2001

Tata Sons retrieve domain names from a cybersquatter

Tata Sons had filed a complaint with the Arbitration & Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) against an agency known as Ramadasoft in Hyderabad operating through Mr. Manu Kosuri for registering unauthorisedly the following domain names on the Internet with Network Solutions:

jrdtata.com
ratantata.com
tatapowerco.com
tatahydro.com
tatawestside.com
tatahoneywell.com
tatayodogawa.com
tatassl.com
tatateleservices.com
tatatimken.com

Under the on-line dispute resolution policy formulated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) and administered by WIPO, a Panelist appointed by the Arbitration & Mediation Center examined the complaint filed and the submissions made therein by Tata Sons and held that –

a) the domain names registered by the Respondent were identical or confusingly similar to the trade mark/service mark in which the complainant i.e. Tata Sons has rights;

b) the Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names since they had neither been licensed by Tata Sons to the Respondents nor were the Respondents commonly known by the name TATA; and

c) the domain names have been registered and used in bad faith by the Respondents who, being domiciled/established in India, ought to have been aware of Tata Sons’ ownership of and the goodwill attached to the TATA Mark. The Panelist also held that the registration of a host of such domain names by the Respondents indicated a pattern of cyber-squatting conduct and an attempt to foreclose Tata Sons from using its Trade Marks in cyberspace.

Following the above conclusions, the Panelist directed Network Solutions to transfer the impugned domain names to Tata Sons Limited.

This is a landmark judgement in favour of Tata Sons inasmuch as the impugned domain names included the names of the former chairman and the present chairman of Tata Sons Limited i.e. Mr. JRD Tata and Mr. Ratan Tata. Earlier, Tata Sons have obtained similar favourable judgements in respect of the domain names "tata.org" and "bodacious-tatas.com" and all these judgements have established the international awareness and reputation of the TATA Name and Mark.