This week, it was revealed that the domain name ‘googlee.in’ has gone to search engine major Google. This happened after the Delhi High Court concluded that the domain name was registered in bad faith, and not a coincidence, by the registrant Gulshan Khatri.
The Press Trust Of India reports that in 2007, Khatri applied to the .IN Registry, run by National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to register the domain name of his website, ‘googlee.in’. Before opening .IN domain names for registration to the general public, NIXI began with a sunrise period, during which trademark holders are allowed to register domain names which are similar to their own. Khatri got his domain name registered in 2008 and in 2010, it was renewed up till 2020.
In September 2010, Google issued cease and desist notice against Khatri, claiming that apart from copying their trademark, his website also had a nearly identical writing style, font, color scheme and layout. When Khatri did not respond to legal notices, Google filed a complaint against him under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP).
Following the complaint with IDRP, the arbitrator held in favour of Google, since Khatri failed to offer an explanation for the fact that his website was virtually identical to Google’s. The court then directed that googlee.in’s registration be cancelled.
Khatri moved the high court challenging the May 2011 decision of the arbitrator. The High Court refused to interfere with the decision of the arbitrator ruling in favor of Google and transferred the domain name ‘Googlee.in’ to Google.
The court said:
The domain name and mark ‘google’ is a coined word, distinctive in nature, particularly in relation to the goods and services that it represents.
The adoption by Khatri of a nearly identical mark/domain name ‘googlee.in’ is indeed in bad faith and not merely a coincidence.
A glance at his web page shows how slavish his imitation is of Google’s writing style, font, colour scheme and layout.