Using competitor trademark as ‘adword’ is violative of trademark owner rights, Delhi HC refers A23 vs WinZo case to mediation

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The Delhi High Court has observed that the use of competitor trademarks as keywords for promoting a business would be violative of the rights of the trademark owner. The observation came in a case filed by Hyderabad-based Digital Digital Works Pvt. Ltd that operates a multi-gaming platform A23. Head Digital sought a permanent injunction against Delhi-based WinZO Games.

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A23 said that it was providing gaming services through its website and its mobile application ‘A23’. The present suit was filed by A23 to protect its marks ‘Ace2three’ and ‘A23’ which were registered as trademarks under various classes. WinZO earlier filed a case against Google for discriminatory practices.

A23 said in February 2022 it came to its knowledge of that WinZO was using A23’s mark as ‘keywords’ on the App Store. It was submitted that when any user searches for ‘A23’ or ‘Ace2three’ on the App Store the first result in the advertisement section of the search result was that of the Defendant’s app ‘WinZO Games’.

Also read: WinZO challenges the constitutional validity of Odisha Gambling Act

A23 said that the said marks were its registered trademarks since 2006 and 2020 respectively and relate to online gaming platforms operated and controlled by it and were stated to represent India’s first-ever online rummy platform.

It was also argued that a case had already been filed by WinZO against the A23 in respect of the use of the marks ‘WinZO’, ‘WinZO Games’ as a meta tag or title tag by A23. It was argued that in the said case, the Court had granted an injunction restraining A23 from using the mark or name ‘WinZO’/’WinZO Games’ or its variants on its website and web advertisements.

The Court observed that the invisible use of A23’s mark as an ‘adword’ or ‘keyword’ on any online platforms by WinZO would be violative of the Head Digital’s rights in the marks. Considering the suit and countersuit filed by the parties, the Court referred the matter to mediation. The next date of hearing is on 22nd August 2022.