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In win for government, WIPO rules against websites with unauthorised use of “Khadi” in name

This is not the first time that the statutory body has sought action against website owners and private firms for using the trademarked name.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has ruled against multiple websites that use the name “Khadi,” in a win that makes it easier for the government to pursue websites globally that purport to sell Khadi products. While Khadi is a traditional Indian fabric, the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) owns the trademark for the name “Khadi” and only people who are authorised by the KVIC can sell goods under that label.

The WIPO arbitrates domain disputes for .com websites; in India, this is done by the National Internet Exchange of India for .in websites. The WIPO has so far heard at least five cases involving the KVIC and has always ruled in the commission’s favor. KVIC was represented by Fidus Law Chambers in all these disputes, and they were all arbitrated by Indian panelists. These cases include:

In all these cases, the WIPO accepted India’s contention that the registrants of domains like urbankhadiclub.com, khaditourism.com, khadiherbalshop.com, etc., were a) identical or confusingly similar to their trademark, b) in violation of KVIC’s rights or legitimate interests, and c) registered and used in bad faith.

It’s not just in the WIPO that KVIC is pursuing and winning such cases. As it said in a press release on Thursday:

It is pertinent to mention that KVIC, in recent times, has won several cases against violation of its trademark “Khadi”. On June 4, Delhi High Court barred a Ghaziabad-based trader JBMR Enterprises from manufacturing and selling counterfeit Khadi Prakritik Paint. On May 28, Delhi High Court restrained “Khadi Design Council of India” and “Miss India Khadi Foundation” from using “Khadi” brand name. On May 3, an Arbitration Tribunal in Delhi had said that “Khadi” was not a generic name to be used by private individuals or firms while permanently restraining an individual from using the brand name Khadi. In March this year, the Delhi High Court had also restrained a firm from using brand name Khadi and the Charkha symbol to sell its products under the name “IWEARKHADI”.

KVIC in the last few years has acted tough against such violators. So far KVIC has issued legal notices to over 1000 private firms including Fabindia for misusing its brand name and selling products under the name of Khadi. KVIC has sought damages to the tune of Rs 500 crore from Fabindia which is pending before the Mumbai High Court. — KVIC press release

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The KVIC has also gone after Amazon and Flipkart to get listings taken down that mentioned “Khadi” in the name. “Khadi has been manufactured and sold since the pre-independence era. It is a generic term. The entire industry cannot suddenly be dictated by a government body,” intellectual property advocate Kritika Sahni had said in 2018.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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