Delhi High Court: In a case filed by Livspace Pte. Ltd. (‘plaintiff 1') and Home Interior Designs E-Commerce Private Limited (‘Plaintiff 2') seeking permanent injunction against the domain name on which a website is being hosted, called www.livspace-reviews.com (‘defendant') where extreme derogatory reviews were written against the plaintiffs which are disparaging and defamatory in nature, Prathiba Singh, J. directed Department of Telecommunications (‘DoT’) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (‘MEITY') to issue blocking orders within 48 hours, and then ensure that the website www.livspace-reviews.com, shall remain blocked till the next date of hearing.
The plaintiffs claim rights in the mark ‘LIVSPACE' and logo since 2013. Plaintiff 2 is the subsidiary of plaintiff 1 and plaintiff 1 conducts all its business in India through the plaintiff 1. The plaintiffs are also users of the domain name www.livspace.com. The said mark ‘LIVSPACE' is used in respect of interior designing services, and the plaintiffs claim to offer one of the world's largest interior design and home renovation platforms that connects interior designers, homeowners and vendor.
The Court noted that the present suit highlights the perils of internet-based businesses. The impugned domain name – www.livspace-reviews.com, is merely one such domain name, which has been registered by an unknown person of whom no details are known. It is not clear as to who has booked the domain name, who has hosted the website, from where the reviews have been collected, and where the content has been developed. None of the details are decipherable from the said website.
The Court further noted that the content is extremely critical of the plaintiffs that could have a serious and deleterious impact on the plaintiffs' business as these are online reviews, for a business that largely operates online. While there can be no doubt that general criticism and review would be permissible in terms of any business, the fact that the entire website, its operations, the persons reviewing, etc., have been totally masked, without any details provided whatsoever, clearly gives the Court the feeling that the same is ingenuine and clandestine.
Thus, the Court observed that while using the trademark ‘LIVSPACE' of the plaintiffs and the trade name, in a surreptitious manner, defendant 1 is intending to cause irreparable harm to the Plaintiffs’ business.
The Court thus directed MEITY and DoT to issue blocking orders against the domain name www.livspace-reviews.com which has been duly complied with by DoT vide notice dated 01-09-2022.
[Livspace Pte. Ltd. v. Livspace Reviews.com, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 2729, decided on 30-08-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For plaintiff: Mr. Pranjit Bhattacharya, Advocate
For defendant: Ms. Nidhi Raman, CGSC with Mr. Zubin Singh and Mr. Vinod Tiwari, GP for D-4 & 5.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.