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Use of Trademark as ad words is not infringement: Delhi High Court in MakeMyTrip trademark dispute

The Court held that use of MMT’s trademark as advertisement keywords by Google was not illegal “if it did not result in any confusion” for the users.

Google and Booking.com will no longer be restrained from using the MakeMyTrip trademark as a Google Adword, the Delhi High Court said on December 14. Last year, MakeMyTrip filed a case at the Delhi High Court against Google and Booking.com stating that Booking.com had used MakeMyTrip and other trademarks of the company as keywords on Google Ads to promote its own services through advertisements on search results.

At the time, the court had granted MakeMyTrip an injunction, temporarily restraining Booking.com and Google from using the name MakeMyTrip and associated trademarks as keywords on Google Ads in India. It had noted that this use would amount to trademark infringement and be detrimental to MakeMyTrip’s “monetary interest and brand equity.”

Details of the court’s judgment:

The Delhi High Court relied on its judgment made in the trademark dispute in the DRS Logistics case where it had held that the use of marks as keywords would not amount to use as trademarks, therefore, the use of such marks as keywords does not constitute infringement under Section 29(1) of the Trade Marks Act. The judges stated that there is “nothing illegal in Google using the trademarks as keywords for display of advertisements if it did not result in any confusion or mislead internet users to believe that sponsored links or Ads displayed were associated with the proprietors of the trademarks.” Since Booking.com is a well-known platform offering travel services, the court was “unable to accept” that an internet user would be misled into believing that services offered by Booking.com are those of MakeMyTrip.

The court disagreed with the previous judgment’s application of Sub-section (7) of Section 29 of the Trade Marks Act. This section is applicable when a person applies a registered trade mark to a material intended to be used for labelling or packaging of goods, as a business paper, or for advertising goods or services. “In the present case, the use of trade marks as keywords cannot, by any stretch, be construed as applying the registered trade mark to any material intended to be used for labelling or packing goods, as a business paper, or for advertising goods or services,” the court held.

Why it matters:

MakeMyTrip has a long history of filing trademark infringement cases. The company won trademark disputes with PickMyTrip and MyTripBazaar in 2018 and 2020 respectively. It also filed a complaint against EaseMyTrip in 2019 for the use of its trademark as a Google ad word. The result of this case sets the precedent for future trademark cases.

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