Intellectual Property in Cyberspace: Provenance of domain name deceptions and the present scenario Abhishek Shivpuri*
* Student, 5th year, Gujarat National Law University
ARPANET, predecessor of the internet, was developed by United States of America to prove their robustness in the realm of technology and as answer to USSR’s launch of sputnik. This marks the beginning of the era of internet. Internet’s ubiquitous nature has pervaded the lives of each and every person in this world. It has provided intellectual property owners with a seemingly unlimited market for their creations. Simultaneously, however, it has also offered ample opportunities to users seeking to infringe the rights of others. Since internet is an infinite space the place of commission of the crime is extremely difficult to determine and also to make the person committing the crime liable for it. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to surmount this obstacle by creating an impervious system of protection of intellectual property on the Internet. The focus of this paper is particularly on the abuse of domain names and ‘Uniform Domain Names Dispute Resolution Policy’ which helps in securing the rights of the victims of ‘cybersquatting’. It will also discuss the Indian scenario right from the landmark Yahoo! case till the more recent cases. This paper also seeks to explain the Indian Domain Name System and provide recommendations to make the Internet a safer haven for the Intellectual Property owners. Keywords: Intellectual Property, Domain Name, Internet
With the efflux of time we have seen phenomenal growth in the use of Internet for commercial purpose. Every business or an individual tries to identify itself to its users through its unique brand name and its symbol. With the growth of Internet as a platform or marketplace for businesses to market and sell their products the companies trading online try to acquire a domain name which is easy to remember and relates to their product or trademark. Domain name is the primary identifier of a website for the internet users.(Mayuri Patel and Subhasis Saha, 2008). It is an alphanumeric address given to a business or an individual, for e.g. www.iocl.com is domain name of the website of Indian Oil Corporation. In the case of Travel.Indiatimes v. Indiatimes Travel (Matthews P. George, 2010) the Honourable Supreme Court observed that “a domain name is chosen as an instrument of commercial enterprise not only because it facilitates the ability of consumers to navigate the Internet to find websites they are looking for, but also at the same time, serves to identify and distinguish the business itself, or its goods or services, and to specify its corresponding online Internet location. Consequently a domain name as an address must, of necessity, be peculiar and unique and where a domain name is used in connection with a business, the value of maintaining an exclusive identity becomes critical”. There are three levels in a domain name. The first level consists of the name of brand or the enterprise or the trading name. It is followed by “top-level” domain name specifying the nature or sometimes the location of the organisation. For e.g., in ‘arbiter.wipo.int’, arbiter is the first level domain name, wipo is second level domain name, and int is the top-level domain name. Top level domain name is of two types – gTLDs and ccTLDs. gTLDs give description about the nature of an organisation like “.org”, “.com”, “.gov”, etc. ccTLDs give description about the location of an organisation like “.in”, “.us”, “.au”, etc. There has been torrential increase in the registration of domain names as the practice of cybersquatting is becoming prevalent. Cybersquatting is defined as the act of registering the name of trademark of a well-known company as a domain name and then selling that domain name at huge profits to the trademark owner or to any other party. Literally, it means sitting on someone else’s...
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