Delhi HC says competitors’ use of “trademark” as keyword in Google Ads constitutes trademark infringement

In this week’s review of the Court’s judgments, we look at the Supreme Court’s observations regarding the ambiguous terms of insurance contracts, the Delhi High Court’s decision regarding the husband’s financial responsibility for maintenance, trademark infringement in relation to Google AdWords and Kerala High Court judgment in attempted suicide case.

Supreme Court: ambiguous clauses in insurance contracts to be interpreted in favor of the insured.

The Supreme Court observed that if the terms of an insurance contract are ambiguous, they must be interpreted against the writer of the policy, that is, in favor of the insured. The bench consisting of Judges UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha made this observation in the case Haris Marine Products v Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) Limited.

The Court of Cassation upheld an appeal brought against the order of the National Commission for the Redress of Consumer Disputes, which favored the insurer.

In this particular case,

  • Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) is a public company that provides credit risk insurance to its exporters. Haris Marine Products (appellant) is one of the persons insured by the ECGC.
  • On December 13, 2012, the appellant paid a premium for a policy covering non-payment for goods exported by foreign buyers. The ship set sail on the 15 December 2012. However, the Bill of Landing was prepared on 19 December 2012 and mentioned December 13, 2012 as the date of dispatch.
  • The buyer failed to make payment after the goods were delivered. When the claim was filed, the insurer rejected it.

The Independent Review Committee (IRC) also rejected the claim on March 28, 2015, stating that the date sent was December 13, 2012, but the policy was effective from December 14, 2012. The insurer contacted the National Commission for the Redress of Consumer Disputes (NCRDC) which upheld the IRC’s decision.

The appellant, that is to say the insured, argued that:

  • The term “shipping”, as defined in the policy, does not specify the effective date of coverage.
  • As the definition is unclear, it can be interpreted to mean the date the vessel sailed (December 15, 2012) and not the date loading of the goods began (December 13, 2012).
  • According to Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Orissa Ltd, v New India Assurance Co. Ltd, where a policy contains an ambiguous term, it should be construed against the writer, i.e., against proferent

During this time, the defendant, that is to say the insurance company, referred to the directives of the General Directorate of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The Supreme Court bench was of the view that, while interpreting an ambiguous term, if two constructions are possible, then the one that is consistent with good business sense should be preferred. He further noted that the date the goods were loaded was less important than the date the foreign buyer was in default, as the policy was supposed to cover the default and not the transit. He was referring to an earlier case of Sushilaben Indravadan Gandhi v New India Assurance Company Limited, with regard to the “contra proferentum” rule that protects the insured from the unfavorable interpretation of an ambiguous clause.

The Apex court declared outside the order of the NCRDC and ordered the insurer to pay the claim amount of Rs. 2.45 crores with interest at 9% per annum.

Delhi HC: Husband with sufficient means cannot evade family responsibility

In the case of Jitendra Kumar Garg vs. Manju Garg, The Delhi High Court observed that according to Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if the husband has sufficient resources, he is bound to maintain his wife and children and not shirk his responsibilities.

In this case, presided over by Judge Subramonium Prasad, the Delhi High Court dealt with a plea challenging an order made by the family court, where the petitioner, i.e. the husband, had to pay child support. provisional maintenance of Rs. 20,000 per month to the respondent, that is to say his wife.

The sequence of events in the case are.

  • The two parties married in 1989 and have two sons. Marital disputes erupted in 2013 and it was alleged that the wife treated the husband cruelly.
  • Thereafter, they both began to live separately, with the husband remaining with the eldest son and the wife with the younger.
  • In December 2015, the wife reportedly broke into the husband’s property and started living in part of the house. A settlement was reached in 2018 where the husband agreed to pay the wife Rs. 5 thousand per month.
  • Later in December 2018, the wife filed a petition with a request for interim support and alleged that she had been treated cruelly. She also alleged that the husband earns Rs. 3 lakhs per month. This was disputed by the husband citing that he was a car driver and the wife herself earns Rs. 40 thousand per month.
  • As per the mediation settlement in 2020, it was agreed that the husband would continue to give Rs. 5 thousand per month to his wife. This was challenged by the family court, and it ordered the husband to pay Rs. 20 thousand per month.

The husband filed a petition in the High Court challenging the order. The High Court observed that it could only interfere with the contested order if it was fraught with legal infirmities. In reviewing the documents, the court noted that the order issued by the family court was based on the review of all affidavits of income, assets and liabilities, etc. He concluded that the order challenged by the family court was well reasoned and therefore dismissed the motion filed. by the husband.

Kerala HC: Drop charges in ‘attempted suicide’ case

In a suicide attempt case, Justice K. Haripal of the Kerala High Court observed that based on a thorough study of the general judicial opinion on suicide attempts, the growing trend is in favor of the decriminalization of the offense because suicidal behavior is often seen as a symptom of mental distress.

As a result, in Simi CN v. State of Kerala and Ors., the Kerala High Court quashed all pending charges against a village officer who had attempted suicide and was convicted under the Section 309 of the IPC. She asked the court to quash the charges against her.

The de facto plaintiff (village president) and others demanded the manual issuance of income certificates related to the Life Mission Scheme. The petitioner, i.e. the village officer, insisted that she would only issue the certificates manually after receiving instructions from senior officials. The official procedure is to issue these certificates online.

This led to an altercation at the office. The officer attempted suicide due to the mental disturbance caused. In the petition, she said the group had wrongfully restrained and confined her and interfered with the normal course of work and declared her political influence. The group abused, harassed and ridiculed her in front of the general public.

Amid the harassment and mental strain, she pulled out a blade and cut the veins in her left arm and was immediately taken to the hospital. Lawyers on behalf of the petitioner argued that she had engaged in such an act without any intention and outside of the circumstances and that she could not be offended under section 309. Further, l Section 115 of the Mental Care Act spares the applicant criminal liability.

In reviewing the facts of the case, the court observed that there was no allegation by the president of the panchayat or others that the petitioner engaged in corrupt practice or deliberately delayed the issuance of certificates. The indictment also said she attempted suicide by cutting her veins out of mental tension.

Judge Harpal referred to the 42n/a recommendation of the report on the removal of the offense of attempted suicide from the CPI. Moreover, in the case Common cause against Union of India and the ANR, The Supreme Court has recommended that Parliament consider decriminalizing attempted suicide.

Considering the situation created by the President and others who seem to obtain certificates by scaring her, it is understandable that the Village officer was under severe stress. The court therefore proceeded to cancel all pending proceedings against him.

Delhi HC: Competitors’ use of trademark as a keyword in Google Ads constitutes trademark infringement.

In the case of Make My Trip India Pvt Ltd v Booking.com BV & Orsthe Delhi High Court observed that the use of the trademark by competitors, even as a metatag, constitutes an offense under the Trademarks Act and granted an injunction in favor of “Make My Trip”.

The Claimant – ‘Make My Trip (India) Pvt. Ltd’ filed a permanent injunction seeking protection for its “MakeMyTrip” trademarks and variants thereof. The petitioner alleged that his brands were used by Booking.com BV as keywords on Google Ads to promote his services through search results displayed on the Google search engine. When searching for “Makemytrip” in Google search, the first advertisement that appears is that of Booking.com, which is one of its main competitors.

Makemytrip.com also claimed that Booking.com made bids for the keyword “MakeMyTrip” to ensure they show up in the top search results when someone searches for “MakeMyTrip” on Google. The requester previously sent notices to Booking.com asking it to stop bidding on the keyword “MakeMyTrip”, which was duly stopped. Other notices were issued asking the defendant to cease unauthorized and illegal bidding for their mark as a keyword.

The defendant, i.e. Booking.com, argued that the plaintiff failed to disclose all the details. Reference was made to a “strategic partnership agreement” in 2016 between the two parties in which Booking.com authorized Makemytrip to conduct, undertake, use and perform paid search using their “booking.com” brand. They further stated that the words “do”, “my” and “trip” can be used generically and descriptively. It has also been argued that the use of a trademark as a keyword is not infringement internationally, including in the UK, US, EU, Australia, Japan, China, etc.

The court observed that by using a trademark as a keyword, Google Ads seeks to create a platform for two competitors to bid against each other. Therefore, the brand owner is obliged to bid for his own brand.

The court prohibited Booking.com from using the mark “MakeMyTrip”, together or jointly, with or without spaces as a keyword on Google Ads.

The featured image: Important judgments of the Court

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