The Delhi High Court in a trademark related dispute has rejected the application filed by PolicyBazaar Insurance Web Aggregator against Coverfox Insurance Broking Pvt. Ltd. on the ground that mere appearance of website as advertisements or sponsored link not sufficient to hold that the internet user will be confused.

The plaintiffs sought to restrain the defendants from allotting and from using the trade name, terms, and phrases as keywords on the defendants’ AdWords Program, which were identical to or deceptively similar to the plaintiffs’ trademarks ‘Policy Bazaar’, ‘PolicyBazaar’, and ‘Policy Bazar’ in any manner, form, variation and/or combination, for its business through the Google Ads/AdWords program operated and managed by the defendants.

A Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla held, “It may be true that use of such keywords may have added to the cost of advertisement for the plaintiffs and may even result in additional hits on the website(s) of the defendant no.1 in the two Suits, however, as held by the Division Bench, the same itself is not sufficient to find the defendants guilty of infringing the registered trade marks of the plaintiffs or passing off the same. In my prima facie view by mere appearance of the website(s) of the defendant no.1 in the two Suits as advertisements or as sponsored link is not sufficient to hold that the internet user will be confused thereby.”

The Bench noted that the plaintiffs having concealed in the plaint, the fact of them using the trademarks of the defendant in the two Suits as a keyword in the Google AdWords Program, have, even otherwise, disentitled themselves to grant of any discretionary relief from the Court.

Senior Advocate Amit Sibal represented the plaintiffs while Senior Advocates Arun Kathpalia, Arvind Nigam, and Advocate Peeyosh Kalra represented the defendants.

The plaintiff Policybazaar, in its lawsuits against Coverfox and Acko, claimed that the defendant companies were using key words identical to the ‘Policybazaar’ marks like ‘Policy Bazaar’, ‘PolicyBazaar’ and ‘Policy Bazar’ with the intent of diverting business from its website by causing confusion. It was claimed that the plaintiff enjoyed enormous goodwill and reputation in the registered trademarks. The plaintiffs submitted that on account of extensive, continuous and uninterrupted use of the Policybazaar marks, they acquired common law rights in the said marks and were, therefore, entitled to the exclusive and undisturbed use.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel observed, “The Suits are based on the allegations of mere use of plaintiffs‟ registered trade marks as keywords by the defendant no.1 in the two Suits in the Google AdWords Program run by the defendant nos.2 and 3. It is not the case of the plaintiffs that the advertisements as they appear on the search engine under the sponsored link or under the advertisement/sponsored links are per se deceptive or may result in confusion in the mind of the internet user. In fact, these search results shown by the plaintiffs in their plaint clearly depict the website of the defendant no.1 in the two Suits as a sponsored link with a mark „ ‟ and under the own name of the defendant no. 1. They do not also reflect, in their brief summary as it appears on the front page, any connection with the plaintiffs.”

The Court said that the plaintiffs, themselves, were admittedly using the registered trademarks of the defendant in the two Suits as keywords till before the filing of the commercial Suits and that they, therefore, accepted this as a fair and honest commercial practice. It further said that they cannot now be heard to be complaining against the same merely because they have now realised that others may be gaining more advantage of their trademarks rather than in the reverse.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the applications.

Cause Title- PolicyBazaar Insurance Web Aggregator & Anr. v. Coverfox Insurance Broking Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:6407)

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