Court sees merit in infringement argument of BharatMatrimony

The Supreme Court on Friday restrained Shaadi.com and two other websites from displaying their names in the BharatMatrimony website and 21 related sites in the “AdWords” programme of Google.

Whenever BharatMatrimony’s name was displayed on Google search, the three competitive sites appeared on the right hand side thereby infringing the trademark of BharatMatrimony and its related sites.

The Madras High Court had refused to restrain Google and the three sites from displaying such pop-ups whenever ‘BharatMatrimony’ was keyed in during Google search.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices S.S. Nijjar and J. Chelameswar granted the stay on the three websites after senior counsel Mujkul Rohatgi, appearing for Google, said the names of Shaadi.com, People Interactive Pvt. Ltd., Jeevansathi Internet Services P. Ltd. and Times Business Solutions Ltd. would be removed from the programme.

Senior counsel Aram Sundaram and counsel A.A. Mohan and K.V. Mohan appearing for BharatMatrimony submitted that by permitting the competitors to display their websites, Google was infringing the trademark rights of the company and capitalising on its goodwill and reputation.

However, Mr. Rohatgi argued that ‘Bharat’ and ‘matrimony’ were two independent words and the petitioners could not claim any trademark right. He cited several examples to drive home the point that whenever such common words were used in Google, similar related sites also would be displayed.

The Bench, however, found prima facie force in the contention of the petitioner, Consim Infor Pvt. Ltd., operating BharatMatrimony and other sites and restrained the competitors from displaying their websites in AdWords. It issued notice to the three competitors seeking their response to the special leave petition filed by Consim Infor Pvt. Ltd.