DELL is a global brand name in the area of Computer hardware, software and IT consulting services. Dell got embroiled in a passing off action against an Indian company using the ‘Dell’ as its corporate name. After a long legal battle that extended over three years, Dell computers succeeded in establishing exclusive rights over its unregistered trademark "Dell" in India in the case of Dell Computers Corpn. V. Arun Kumar and ors. 2005 (31) PTC651 (Del.)
Dell International Incorporated Ltd (a US company) is the registered proprietor of the trademark "DELL" in many countries and registration application for the same is pending in India. Dell products made entry in the Indian market in year 1993 and were extensively advertised and marketed. In 1996, the Company set up a liaison office in Bangalore for the purpose of overseeing the marketing and distribution network of Dell products and services in India. In 2000, Dell International incorporated established its Indian subsidiary known as Dell Computers Corp that is the plaintiff in the instance case.
In 2001 Dell Computers came to know of the existence of a company by the name of Dell Technologies (hereinafter referred to as infringer) at Bangalore. Dell computers served a cease and desist notice on the said company directing the latter to abandon the use of the well known trademark "DELL" as a part of their corporate name. Consequent to the notice, several rounds of negotiations were held between the parties. However, the attempt of extra judicial dispute resolution failed miserably with infringer asking for certain sums of money for dropping the "Dell’ from its name.
During the course of dispute, it transpired that the infringer had also registered a domain name "dell-technologies.com" through Ebiz technologies for the purposes of promoting its business and deceiving the consumers. Dell computers send a notice to Ebiz technologies seeking the removal of the domain name as the same was violating its exclusive rights over word "DELL"
As pre litigation measures failed, Dell computers brought out an action for passing off against the infringer and Ebiz technologies.
Despite several notice the defendants did not make an appearance in the Court, as a result the Court proceeded exparte in the case. On the basis of the evidences and affidavits filed by Dell Computers, the Court passed a decree of injunction against the infringer. As no prayer for either damages or rendition of accounts was made by the plaintiff, the Court only awarded the costs of the suit against infringer.
This case is third in row after Intel and Infosys cases decided in the year 2005 where top IT brand was involved. In all the cases, the proprietors succeeded in establishing their case and verdict was passed in their favour. With India having a strong IT market, the well known IT brands are particularly vulnerable to deceptive adoption.
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