Facts of the Case:
Tata Sons Private Limited (Plaintiff) filed a suit seeking various reliefs,
including a permanent injunction against the infringement of registered
trademarks, passing off, dilution and tarnishment of trademarks and copyrights,
damages, transfer of domain name, and other reliefs. The dispute in the case
revolves around the mark 'TATA', which is owned and registered by the Plaintiff.
The Plaintiff is the promoter and principal investment holding company of the 'TATA'
Group of Companies, which is a well-known business conglomerate in India. The
mark 'TATA' is derived from the surname of the Plaintiff's founder and has been
used by the Plaintiff and its group companies since 1917. The 'TATA' Group of
Companies operates in various sectors and has acquired unparalleled reputation
and popularity over the years. The Plaintiff claims that the mark 'TATA' is a
well-known mark and enjoys extensive goodwill and recognition in India.
On the other hand, the Defendant No.1, HakunaMatata Tata Founders, operates two
domain names, namely 'www.hakunamatata.finance' and 'www.tatabonus.com', which
are alleged to be involved in the trading of a cryptocurrency called 'TATA Coin'
or '$TATA'. The Plaintiff contends that the Defendant No.1's activities infringe
upon its trademark rights and cause confusion among the public.
Court: High Court of Delhi
Bench: Justice Prathiba M. Singh
- Whether the Plaintiff is entitled to the reliefs sought, including a
permanent injunction and damages, against the Defendants for infringement of
trademarks and passing off?
- Whether the Court has territorial jurisdiction to grant the reliefs
considering the Defendants' location outside India?
The Court needs to establish a necessary connection between the defendants'
activities and India to exercise jurisdiction. In cases of internet
infringements, the intent of the defendants to target India and the ability of
customers in India to access the website are crucial factors in determining
territorial jurisdiction. The possibility of confusion and deception in the
minds of the public due to the infringing trademark is sufficient to grant an
The Plaintiff has provided substantial evidence to establish its ownership and
extensive use of the mark 'TATA' over a long period. The 'TATA' Group of
Companies' reputation, goodwill, and recognition are well-established, supported
by revenue and market capitalization figures. The Defendants' use of the
impugned websites and trading in the 'TATA Coin' or '$TATA' cryptocurrency have
raised concerns of trademark infringement and passing off.
However, the Court's jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff
is a crucial issue. The previous order dated 26th October 2021 dismissed the
application for interim injunction on the grounds of lack of territorial
jurisdiction. The question of whether the Defendants' activities targeted India
and caused confusion and deception among the public needs to be examined to
In the judgment, the Division Bench discussed the concept of targeting and the
ability of customers to access a website in a particular geography. Mere
presence of a website in a geography and the ability of customers therein to
access the website can establish targeting. The possibility of confusion and
deception due to the infringing trademark is sufficient grounds for granting an
Considering the prima facie view of the learned Single Judge, who entertained
the suit, it indicates a positive view on the maintainability of the suit in
Delhi based on the plaint and filed documents. The Court needs to make an
interim decision based on the probable view of jurisdiction.
The case of Tata Sons Private Limited v/s Hakunamatata Tata Founders
raises important issues regarding trademark infringement and passing off in the
digital sphere. The Plaintiff, Tata Sons Private Limited, has established its
long-standing use and extensive reputation in the mark 'TATA'. The Defendants'
activities, involving the trading of a cryptocurrency using the 'TATA' name,
have raised concerns of confusion and deception among the public.
The key question before the Court is whether it has territorial jurisdiction to
grant the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff. In cases of internet infringements,
the Court must establish a necessary connection between the Defendants'
activities and India. Factors such as the intent to target India and the ability
of customers in India to access the website are crucial in determining
While a previous order dismissed the application for interim injunction on the
grounds of lack of territorial jurisdiction, the prima facie view of the learned
Single Judge in this case suggests a positive inclination towards maintaining
the suit in Delhi based on the filed documents and evidence. The Court must
consider the possibility of confusion and deception caused by the Defendants'
actions, which may serve as sufficient grounds for granting an injunction.
Given the importance of protecting trademark rights and preventing unauthorized
use that could harm a well-established brand like 'TATA', it is crucial for the
Court to carefully examine the jurisdictional aspect and ensure that the
Plaintiff's rights are adequately safeguarded.
Overall, this case highlights the challenges posed by digital platforms and the
need for a robust legal framework to address trademark infringement and passing
off in the online environment. The Court's decision will have significant
implications for the protection of intellectual property rights and the
prevention of unauthorized use of well-known trademarks.