The ongoing dispute between private carriers GoAir and Indigo over an alleged ‘similarity’ in their domain names has prompted the Bombay High Court to question if one can claim an irrefutable right over generic words.
GoAir had filed a suit in Bombay HC in 2014 seeking that its rival, Interglobe Aviation Ltd. that manages Indigo Airlines, be directed to remove the prefix ‘Go’ from its web address ‘GoIndigo.in’. GoAir accused Indigo of violating its trademark on the word ‘Go’ which it claimed to have bought from Google. It claimed that the similarity in the portal domain of both the airlines was causing a “confusion” in the minds of the customers while booking tickets online. Fliers were getting diverted to Indigo’s website, causing revenue loss to GoAir. GoAir also made Google a party to the suit.
In the last hearing on October 3 this year, the court passed an order granting time to all parties to file their submissions. In the brief but ingeniously worded order that is spiked with numerous puns and repartee, Justice Gautam Patel, who was presiding over the matter, questioned not just GoAir’s trademark claims over the word ‘Go’ but also its decision to make Google a party.
“The plaintiff (GoAir) has declared a litigation war on the first defendant, its rival that owns and operates Indigo Airlines. GoAir believes that Indigo should not use the domain name GoIndigo.in; it has intellectual property issues with Indigo’s chosen prefix ‘Go’ in its domain name (though apparently not with the trailing ‘go’; a small mercy as it happens, for that might be a demand that Indigo should be rechristened Indi.),” Justice Patel said.
“For reasons that are presently unclear, Google India Limited, the second defendant, is also said to be liable. Advocate Amit Jamsandekar for the plaintiff (GoAir) grants that this is not because the word ‘Go’ is also part of Google’s corporate and domain name (and much else besides). That is all to the good, for the alternative is unthinkable — we might otherwise be forced to ogle the Web,” he said.
The court has now directed the defendants to file their reply affidavits and GoAir to file its rejoinder to the affidavits by January 31, next year, adding that “all these filings and cross-filings must be completed in ‘good’ time.”