Sunday, 25 January 2009, and Domain squatting

Before going in detail I have to tell you what is domain squatting. Domain squatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. Now the question is whether the following case a domain squatting?
Let us analyse the situation. Click on You will be taken to India's popular cellular service provider Airtel. Airtel is largest cellular service provider of India with more than 79 million subscribers as of November 2008. Now click on You will be navigated to Vodafone Spain site. It may be a Spanish, where Airtel has no service, it still is the competitor’s website. Airtel has tough compitition with Vodafone in India. Whoever types and looks for Airtel detail he will be taken to Vodafone's website. Vodafone gets free traffic from Airtel.
What could be legal action? Before tell it I should also inform how I can write about this. I am a student of Post Graduation Diploma in IPR Laws in National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Now come to the case. By the definition of Domain squatting or Cyber squatting, if domain name is registered with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else that is well established Airtel, then Vodafone could be asked to transfer the domain name according to the WIPO Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. WIPO takes care of transfer of domain names to the true trademark owner.
But this case is quite different. Look at this information:
Domain name: AIRTEL.COM
Host IP
Created on: 1998-12-15
Updated on: 2008-09-29
Expires on: 2009-12-14
Registrant Name: AIRTEL MOVIL, S.A.
Technical Contact Address: Psg. Lluis Companys, 23
Technical Contact City: Barcelona
Technical Contact Postal Code: 08010
Technical Contact Country: ES

Contact Phone: +34 935074360
Contact Fax: +34 933102360

The domain name is registered very long back in 1998, when cellular service called Airtel was there in Spain. But later it is acquired by Vodafone and they took the advantage and started redirecting the traffic from to their Spanish site. So Airtel-India can not do anything on this issue. But the domain name will get expired on 14 Dec 2009. Hope Vodafone will not re-registeres the domain name and continue to use it.
What happens if Vodafone re-registeres even though now it does not own trademark Airtel? I have to ask our lecturer, IPR expert, advocate J Suresh to answer this question. If you know the answer you are free to write a comment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quiet an interesting case. In my opinion, once there is merger or take over which is in this case, Vodafone taking over Airtel in Spain, Airtel brand name ceases to exist, same should apply to the domain name or another issues pertaining to the brand name. The fact that vodafone is still keeping the domain active clearly shows Vodafone has ulterior motive. I think Airtel India has genuine case of cypersquatting and can approach Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, WIPO since they fulfill all creteria.

Search Rising Indian

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...