Next February, the Delhi High Court will finally decide on whether Google was indeed violating WinZO’s trademarks through warnings issued to its users, and whether the gaming company is entitled to relief. The case will be renotified on February 20th, 2024.
The development was first reported on by LiveLaw.
What’s this case about?: Filed in 2022, WinZO argued that a display warning flashed on Google’s Chrome mobile browser before downloading the gaming app’s apk file (Android Package Kit) amounted to a trademark violation. The warning says “this type of file may harm your device. Do you want to keep WinZO.apk anyway?”. WinZO sought to restrain Google from displaying the warnings on trademark violation grounds, adding that the warnings were leading to fewer downloads from WinZO’s website. Google described the warnings as an “industry practice,” adding that several other browsers display them too.
In the first major event in this case earlier this year, a separate bench of the Delhi High Court refused to grant WinZO interim relief in the case, denying that downloading amounts to trademark violation. Justice Amit Bansal had then described the warning as a “disclaimer” adding that it doesn’t prohibit downloads, and simply cautions users before they download apps outside of Google’s ecosystem. Further, Google wasn’t providing or advertising goods and services using the trademark, so violations of trademark law weren’t made out. Describing WinZO’s claims of declining downloads as “speculative”, the Court then argued that browsers are bound to issue warnings to users to protect them from potential threats under India’s platform regulation rules, the IT Rules, 2021.
So, what issues will the current proceedings cover? The issues that will be considered by Justice C. Hari Shankar in February are:
- Whether Chrome mobile browser displaying a warning before downloading the apk file constitutes “disparagement” of WinZO’s trademarks, goodwill, business and reputation;
- Whether displaying the file name (“WinZO.apk”) in the warning amounts to “use as a trademark under the Trade Marks Act, 1999“;
- Whether Google displaying the warning amounts to inducing a breach of contract;
- Whether displaying the warning falls under Section 30 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. Section 30 deals with exceptional cases where trademark infringement wouldn’t apply.
- Whether displaying the warning is justified in light of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, rules issued under it, and other applicable Indian laws.
- Whether WinZO is entitled to relief; and
- Whether WinZO is disentitled to relief on account of “delay, latches and material suppression”.
Why might apk downloads be important to WinZO? According to the company’s plea, WinZO’s app was first launched in February 2017 and was available for download on Google’s Play Store. However, the app later became a paid gaming platform and was subsequently removed from the Play Store. Users can now directly download the app from the website.
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