In recent times, we have witnessed the footfall in physical stores, escalating people's switch to e-commerce and making omnichannel the new norm. This modern change in society has led several individuals/Start-Ups and Companies to bring their businesses online making them accessible to customers at large. For complete legitimacy and client convenience, many businesses realized the value of having a domain name that is synonymous with their company name and/or the name of one of their products.

With the increase in the number of domain names, the number of conflicts has also increased leading to a rise in domain name complaints. Domain name disputes mostly arise from infringements like cyber-squatting (i.e. unauthorized registration and use of Internet domain names that are identical or similar to trademarks, service marks, company names, or personal names), meta-tagging (i.e. little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about), linking (A "link" is a set of commands in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that when actuated by right-clicking a mouse directs your browser to another page. The new page could be on the website you're viewing, or it could be a page on another website) and framing (i.e. process of allowing a user to view the contents of one website while it is framed by information from another site, similar to the "picture-in-picture" feature offered on some televisions.). These cyber-crimes have a higher success rate than other offences, making them the most common events and paving the door for a slew of legal actions.

Furthermore, adoption of a virtually identical domain name1, and use of the same or similar domain name may lead to a diversion of users which could result from such users mistakenly accessing one domain instead of another2, a domain name registered and is being used in bad faith, the domain name owner/ registrant has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor are few of the grounds that can amount to illegitimate use and are considered as essential elements before passing of the order.

On receipt of the complaint, the .IN Registry shall evaluate the same for compliances and discrepancies (if any) will be notified to Complainant within 5 working days who will then be given 7 working days to make rectifications. Once the complaint has become compliant with the Rules, .IN Registry will appoint an arbitrator within 5 working days. Earlier, the .IN Registry used to forward the complaint to the arbitrator; however, after the amendments, it is now the duty of the Complainant to forward a soft copy of the complaint (along with annexures) to the appointed arbitrator within 2 working days of receiving the notification email informing about the appointment of the arbitrator. The Complainant is also required to ensure service of soft copy as well as a hard copy of the complaint along with annexures to Registrant/Respondent and provide proof of service. The arbitrator will then set a limitation for the Registrant/Respondent to file its submissions.

Thereafter, the arbitrator would review the submissions made by both sides and then pass a decision on the merits of the case.

There are no in-person hearings unless there is an exceptional circumstance decided by the arbitrator and even in such cases, the number of in-person hearings is limited to 2 hearings.

The arbitrator is required to pass the decision within 60 days of commencement of proceedings and under exceptional circumstances, it can be extended by a period of 30 days. The decision of the arbitrator is communicated in writing to the parties the .IN registry within 5 days of receiving it from the arbitrator.

In order to bye-pass the maximum possibilities of getting a registered domain name infringed or immorally used by any of the third party, one can register the popular top-level domains and refer them to your original website, keep track of timely renewals, and legal watch services to conduct frequent checks for identical and similar domain names, getting each word of your domain name registered as a trademark as well to ensure complete and exclusive right over the domain name as well as the trademark, awareness programmes among consumers to explain them about fake domains so that they are conscious against fraud websites or counterfeit products.


1. Gulshan Khatri vs Google Inc. O.M.P (COMM) 497/2016

2. Satyam Infoway Ltd. v. Sifnet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (2004) 6 SCC 145

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.