Crypto case study: Tata Sons Private Limited v. Hakunamata Tata Founders & ORS

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The Delhi High Court refused the plea for a permanent injunction prohibiting Hakunamatata Tata Founders & others from using the trademark ‘Tata’ as their name under cryptocurrencies and dismissed the petition filed by Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. In this case, the plaintiff is Tata Sons, while the defendants are Hakunamatata Tata Founders & Ors.

The accused trades in cryptocurrencies as $TATA or TATA coin. The lawsuit’s defendants were corporations with headquarters in the US and the UK with no branches in India. Their domain names, Tatabonus.com and Hakunamatata, were highlighted during the proceedings.

The plaintiff’s demand for a permanent injunction against the defendants was the first point of contention in the case.

ARGUMENTS BY PLAINTIFF

  1. Any Indian citizen can acquire the defendants’ cryptocurrency from their website.
  2. Any Indian citizen can acquire the defendants’ cryptocurrency from their website. Several Indians have posted questions on defendant’s Twitter page regarding the acquisition of “TATA coin/$TATA” currency.
  3. About 50 visitors from India visit the defendant’s website every day.
  4. The country with the second-highest internet traffic to the www.hakunamatata.finance website was India.
  5. The telegram page of Defendant showed that there were various Indian members and followers.
  6. The plaintiff’s business had suffered as a result of the defendants’ crypto currency being accessible under the allegedly infringing marks “TATA coin/$TATA.”

The plaintiff side made various arguments, but they were unable to prove their case or the harm that the defendant had done. The Judge noted that, if they target customers at all, they do so globally. It was held that since the defendants were located outside of India, they did not come under the purview of Trademarks Act of 1999 or the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908. (CPC)

Observation by Justice C Hari Shankar- “The mere fact that the defendants cryptocurrency can be purchased by customers located in India and that, as a result, the plaintiff’s brand value may be diluted, even seen cumulatively, cannot in my view justify this Court interfering with the defendant’s activities, or with its brand or mark”

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

The Delhi High Court has permanently barred HakunaMatata Tata from using the Indian conglomerate’s registered brand “TATA” in connection with the sale and marketing of digital tokens or cryptocurrencies after ruling in favor of Tata Sons Private Limited.

Justice Pratibha M. Singh sustained an ad interim injunction Order of a division bench by issuing a permanent injunction against “HakunaMatata $TATA Founders,” which has now changed its name to Hakumatata Token Ltd. and launched a new website.

The corporation and domain name registrar were also ordered by the appellate court to take down the websites www.hakunamatata.finance and www.tatabonus.com. The defendant was frequently served with summons and notices, but the defendant opted not to appear.

The Order further read “Considering that no other email addresses or physical address to contact the Defendant is available and the impugned websites have also been taken down, issuance of further summons and notice to the Defendant in the present suit has become an impossibility. Hence, Defendant is being proceeded against ex parte.”

This is only for informational purposes. Nothing contained herein is, purports to be, or is intended as legal advice and you should seek legal advice before you act on any information or view expressed herein. Endeavoured to accurately reflect the subject matter of this alert, without any representation or warranty, express or implied, in any manner whatsoever in connection with the contents of this. This isn’t an attempt to solicit business in any manner.
Sources: LiveLaw, IndianExpress, LegalServicesIndia

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