German luxury products manufacturer Montblanc has taken legal action against ecommerce portal “digaaz.com” for selling counterfeit pens manufactured by the company online at cheaper rates, reports Bar&Bench. A Delhi High Court bench last week issued an ‘ex-parte, permanent injunction’ to Montblanc after the court found digaaz.com guilty of infringing trademark designs, and symbols owned by the German manufacturer.
An ex-parte injunction is delivered by a court after hearing only one party of the case, with or without issuing notices to the defendant (second party). Advocates representing Montblanc said that the website sold counterfeit products ‘marketing’ it as genuine selling them at “discounted rate” of up to 75% and this has led to losses for the company. The domain name ‘digaaz.com’ seems to be taken down after the order.
“…due to the sale of counterfeit products (Monblanc) has suffered loss in business and also loosing of reputation and image and confidence aand trsut to the client…” the statement read (pdf).
Montblanc claimed damages of Rs 20 lakhs, but the court did not grant any damage settlement stating that the German manufacturer “have not produced sufficient evidences to show the extent of actual damages they had suffered…” Interestingly the report pointed out that French luxury goods maker Cartier International sued digaaz.com in January last year, for selling counterfeit goods. At that time, Delhi HC awarded damages of Rs 1 crore to Cartier while the website did not file any counter arguments or statements with the court.
A quick look-up on Digaaz.com shows that the company is registered under the name “DIGAAZ ECOMMERECE PRIVATE LIMITED” with the Registrar of Companies and was incorporated in April 2012. The company’s owners include Dixit Sahni, and Gaurav Bhatia. Interestingly, this TOI article in 2014 names Sahni and Bhatia as “two traders” who were nabbed by the Chandigarh Police for selling fake goods online through www.watchcartz.com, www.digaaz.com, www.luxecart.com
Other instances of online sites selling fake goods
In January 2015, ecommerce site Shopclues received a legal notice from audio device manufacturer Harman International for selling fake and counterfeit products from vendors on its portal. In November 2014, Bangalore Police raided the offices of a fake online shopping portal called BigSop.com based on complaints forwarded to the police via social media.
Ecommerce portals like Shopclues continue to get away with selling counterfeit products. Online discussion and review forums are filled with complaints against Shopclues listing counterfeit goods as genuine ones. In spite of this, the Indian government has only received nine complaints regarding fraud committed by e-commerce companies in the year 2014.
As we have highlighted several times before, India might need a consumer protection regulator. Online portals like Snapdeal and Flipkart are technically a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers online; the regulator can define accountability and a method to reimburse consumers and even hold marketplaces responsible in case a complaint is bought to them.