In a landmark decision, the Delhi High Court has ruled that Google’s ads program is not protected by the safe harbour provision of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This article delves into the intricacies of the ruling, its implications, and the broader context of trademark infringement in the digital age.
The Background of the Case
DRS Logistics initiated the case against Google India, Google LLC, and Just Dial. DRS Logistics, a prominent logistics company, took issue with the use of its registered trademark “AGARWAL PACKERS & MOVES or DRS LOGISTICS” as keywords, meta tags, or trademarks in Google’s Ads Programme.
The Court’s Perspective
The division bench, comprising Justice Vibhu Bakhru and Justice Amit Mahajan, upheld a prior ruling against Google. They emphasized that Google plays an active role in its Ads Programme and cannot be considered a passive intermediary. The bench pointed out that Google’s practice of suggesting keywords for higher click rates contradicts its claim of being just a facilitator.
Furthermore, the court clarified that using trademarks as keywords is not inherently harmful. However, if such usage results in confusion or dilutes the trademark’s integrity, it can be considered an infringement.
Google’s Stance on the Matter
Reacting to the verdict, Google articulated its commitment to local regulations. The tech giant has a policy that restricts advertisers from using trademarked terms in ad text, with a few exceptions. Google also emphasized its dedication to ensuring transparency and truthfulness in its advertisements, aiming to provide users with the information they need to make informed decisions.
Implications of the Ruling
This ruling sets a precedent for future cases involving trademark infringement in the digital realm. Companies will need to be more cautious when using trademarks as keywords and digital platforms will have to scrutinize their advertising practices to ensure they don’t infringe on trademark rights.
The Delhi High Court’s ruling on Google’s Ads Programme underscores the importance of protecting trademark rights in the digital age. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, companies and platforms must navigate the complexities of trademark law and ensure they operate within legal boundaries.
This case serves as a reminder of the challenges and responsibilities of digital advertising in today’s interconnected world.