DELHI: In the case of AKASH AGGARWAL v. FLIPKART INTERNET PRIVATE LIMITED AND ORS, Delhi High Court held that permitting a third-party seller to ‘latch on to a Best-Seller’s name or trademark is nothing but ‘riding piggyback’.
The Bench held by Justice Pratibha M Singh passed the interim injunction against Flipkart and restricted the e-commerce platform to allow any third party sellers from ‘latching on’ to the trademark ‘V Tradition’ or its product listings, so as to ensure that third party unauthorized sellers are unable to misuse the same.
The suit was filed by one Akash Aggarwal. He is the sole proprietor of an entity operating under the trademark ‘V Tradition’, which was engaged in the business of sale of clothing for women on various retail e-commerce platforms including the defendant Flipkart.
It was the plaintiff’s case that when a third-party seller wishes to place a listing on Flipkart, the platform’s software itself suggests ‘V Tradition’ products as one of the most popular listings and ‘Best-Sellers’ and allows such third-party sellers to add various products under Plaintiff’s mark into their own listings, along with Plaintiff’s products, photographs, by way of the ‘Opportunities’ option under the ‘Listings’ tab.
The plaintiff said that by doing so, various third-party sellers were portraying themselves as ‘V Tradition’ and were riding on the popularity of its products and designs.
The Court observed – “E-commerce platforms provide an alternate platform to small and medium entrepreneurs to showcase their products and conduct their businesses in a profitable manner. However, certain features on these platforms can also cause damage to such entities and entrepreneurs. One such feature, as is clear from the present case, is the feature described as ‘latching on’ provided by Defendant No.1 – Flipkart on its e-commerce platform,”
The Court thus observed prima facie that Flipkart was permitting third-party sellers to ‘latch on’ to the best sellers in one particular segment of products, resulting in misuse of the Plaintiff’s mark.
“This Court is satisfied that such a feature cannot be allowed to be used or offered, to the detriment of the owner of the brand or the person who has created the original product. Consent and authorization of the brand owner and the listing owner would be required before such conduct by any seller is permitted,” it said.
Observing that Flipkart allowed third-party sellers to ‘latch on’ to the Plaintiff’s product listings which were featuring as ‘Best Sellers’, by way of the ‘Opportunities’ option, the Court said that any infringing third-party product listings would be liable to be taken down.
Thus, the Court directed Flipkart to ensure that the ‘latching on’ feature is disabled qua the mark ‘V Tradition’ till the next date of hearing.
The Court also directed that the URLs of 45 third-party sellers, who had already started using the mark ‘V Tradition’, product listings, and pictures, must be disabled or taken down.
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