Recovery & Restoration Of Facebook Group Ownership Cannot Be Termed To Be A Dispute Relating To Trademark: Observes Bombay HC
The Bombay High Court has held that recovery and restoration of the ownership of a Facebook Group cannot be termed to be a dispute relating to trademark.
The bench of Justice Nitin W. Sambre made this observation while dealing with a plea challenging the Trial Court Order holding that the dispute pertaining to the ownership of Facebook Group relates to trademark and that it falls within the ambit of intellectual property.
In this case, the Appellant/plaintiff filed a suit claiming relief of declaration that the Facebook Group- The Himalayan Club is owned by and the property of the plaintiff and it has exclusive rights to control and manage the Facebook Group.
A mandatory injunction was sought directing the defendants to hand over operation and control of the Facebook Group to the plaintiff.
Based on an objection to the jurisdiction, a preliminary issue was framed as to whether the Civil Court has jurisdiction to try the suit. The Court held that since the defendant No.1 claimed that the Facebook Group is private group, the dispute falls within the ambit of the trademark.
The Civil Court further held that it has no jurisdiction to try and decide the suit.
Advocate Ashish Kamat appeared for the appellant whereas Senior Advocate Soli Cooper and Advocate Jacob Kadantot appeared for Respondent No.2 and 1.
The High Court observed that the Facebook Group which is claimed to be of the appellant is a website, internet based social media platform which provides for members to exchange views, ideas and to post experiences, messages, photographs etc. and that as such, it cannot be said that the Facebook platform is a trademark or a copyright.
The Court held that it cannot be said that the recovery and restoration of Facebook Group can be termed to be a dispute relating to trademark.
The Court asserted that the conclusion drawn by the Civil Court that the dispute involved in the suit pertains to the intellectual property and as such, the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the suit, cannot be accepted.
“The Court below has misguided itself thereby inferring that the ownership of Facebook Group amounts to trademark and as such, the dispute pertains to the intellectual property.”, the Court observed.
Thus the Court set aside the impugned Order and held that the City Civil Court has jurisdiction to try and decide the suit.
Cause Title- Himalayan Club v. Kanwar B. Singh & Ors.