Cyber Law News-2

(From February 24,  2000 to March 12)

. March 12 

Amazon acknowledges concern and advocates reduction in Patent life time.


March 11 

According to preliminary reports the Mubai Highcourt has refused to grant interim stay on ICICI  in  the Case filed by IL&FS.. The next haring is on March 21. So far so good. Let's wait and see the case details as and when available to understand the significance. 
(If any of the readers have the details, I request them to forwrd it to me for publication)

ITSpace .com report is here


March 10, 2000 

Investsmart Vs Investmart  fight on in India

A case is coming up for hearing at Mumbai between ICICI (owners of and IL&FS owners of ( Invest Smart India Ltd is a subsidiary of IL&FS and has objected to ICICI registering a similar looking domain name. 

Let us not look at this as only a dispute between two parties. Let's look at the principles involved and the consequences of the dispute being decided one way or the other. 

At first glance, the two names look similar. But so also would be (to a different degree) or or Definitely, ,,,,, and so on. There are thousands of combinations of letters which would look similar to each other when the domain name is written in English. There will be several thousand more phonetically similar sounding names when the domain names are written in other languages. 
If it is held that no two domain names should appear similar, each registered domain name will immobilize thousands of other domain names. Extending this to the trademark names, every registered trademark in any country will immobilize lakhs of domain names world over. If the logic of "one letter difference is seen along with Yahoo India, Radiff and VW cases cited elsewhere in this site, we will create a precedent which is impractical and cannot be implemented except in specific one to one court battles. 

 The technological explanation of the domain name " As a set of ascii characters which when typed at a specified place on a browser window instructs the modem and the in between routers to send a http request to a designated computer on the Internet network" also provides credence to the fact that domain name has no relation to the physical name except as an illusion. 

The domain name dispute is therefore a problem that we have to live with. It is as much a problem for to distinguish itself with as it is the otherway round. Today , neither can claim to have an overwhelmingly popular recognition to say that one of them would have an unfair advantage. 

I therefore hope that  the issue is resolved in favour of coexistence of similar looking names in the domain space. 

(P.S: This is only a personal opinion and not an advice) 


March 9, 2000 

Volkswagen and the domain name

In yet another significant ruling though not without controversy, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held that Volkswagen was entitled to the domain name 
What seems to have weighed in favour of the judgement is perhaps the demand by the domain name owners of a huge sum in exchange of the domain name rights. 
Not withstanding the realities of this particular case, the judgement exposes the risks to genuine domain name registrants. They may now be questioned not only for the domain names  containing a trademark name embedded either with a prefix or a suffix (e.g. vs, vs ), but also for the abbreviations and for .net domain names as well. 
This is simply ridiculous and will have a debilitating effect on the growth of Internet. Sooner this practice is busted better it is for the Internet community. 


March 9, 2000 

E-Toys Inc Vs is settled out of court

E Toy Inc (  the online trading company has dropped its domain name dispute case against and agreed to pay a reimburse legal fees, in an out of court settlement. Observers feel that the owners of  the domain name were on stronger ground because the domain name had been registered two years before E Toys Inc commenced its operations on the Net. 
Details Here


March 9,2000 

WIPO arbitration on Domain Name Disputes follow the Trade Mark protection policy

In one of the first domain name dispute resolutions for which an arbitration award has been announced by the WIPO committee, chief executive has been held to have acted in bad faith registering domain name See the Details here.


March 4, 2000 

Insuring against Hacking Risk

The distributed denial of service attacks that shook major web sites last month has brought insurance agencies providing coverage for such hacker attacks. See  details here.


March 3, 2000 

Indian Observers  React to Amazon Patent

Amazon Patent case -See the reactions from industry observers in India collected through various sources.

February 27: 

Amazon patents "Affiliate Technology"

In yet another show  of  how "Patent Laws" can be used to destroy a growing industry, Amazon is reported to have patented the "Affiliate Technology"  This is a widely used marketing principle today and helps in decentralised marketing of any product. While patenting of the software used by Amazon or any particular company is perfectly acceptable, patenting the Affiliate marketing process  is an attempt to build a monopoly. 

Now can we expect Bill Gates to patent the "Computer Operating System?" and some body else the "World wide web system" or "Chat system" or "Forum/Message Board system?" . From the indications it appears that technically these are possible in USA where "Patent Law" is being freely misapplied without any consideration for the damage that it may create to the society. 

I suggest that a serious thought is given in this regard by Indian law makers so that such  attempts at monopolizing the web are not allowed to proliferate.

If you fail to appreciate the damage that this trend can create, look at our TV Channels. You will find many programmes of similar structure whether in a Film Song Count down or a Quiz programme. 

The question naturally arises whether  the style of a programme be patented so that no body else can repeat a similar  type of programme even with a different content? 

Similarly, can one company patent the technology of the visual display of the technique of showing the "Stump  vision view" of a cricket match in respect of an LBW appeal or the graph of a "Snickometer" to show the CBW decisions? 

Extending the argument further, perhaps Sachin can patent his sweep shot and Rajnikant can patent his filmy mannerisms so that there can be no competition to them in the global trade regime lead by the WTO. 

May be it is possible under law. But is it desirable? 

Can we do anything to prevent  such absurdities? 

See an article on this topic at IT 

More details about the case and views from across the globe are here

Campaign against Amazon gathers momentum

Also read this article on Patent Law