[Aaj Tak trademark] Delhi High Court orders social media platforms to take down handles/accounts using infringing marks

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The Delhi High Court has recently directed social media giants Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to take down nearly 30 social media accounts accused of infringing the trademarks of the "Aaj Tak" and "TAK" brands.

The single bench of Justice Pratibha Singh passed a John Doe order and noted that since "Aaj Tak is one of the most popular news channels in India" hence, "its rights need to be protected".

“Court is prima facie convinced that a case is made out for grant of an ad-interim injunction against some of the defendants. Most of the offending names and logos used are infringing in nature,” noted the bench.

“Thus, barring the name ‘Sach Tak’, all the remaining infringing profiles, accounts, videos, channels are liable to be taken down as they are either using identical or deceptively similar names including logos and writing styles which is a colorable imitation of the Plaintiffs’ Aaj Tak logo,” the bench further observed.

Further, the bench directed that in case any videos or posts with deceptive marks similar to the "Aaj Tak" trademark were to be uploaded in the future, they too ought to be taken down within 36 hours.

In the present case, the bench was dealing with a suit filed by Living Media India Limited (plaintiff), the parent company of India Today Group which owns Aaj Tak, stating that they had registered the mark ‘AAJ TAK' which is well-known and is used extensively on social media.

The plaintiffs claimed that their goodwill and reputation is not merely limited to the mark ‘AAJ TAK’, but also extend to various formative marks of ‘AAJ TAK’ and other marks ending with the word ‘TAK’. The ‘AAJ TAK’ series of marks, as also various marks such as ‘Yoga Tak’, ‘Tech Tak’, ‘Sports Tak’, ‘Mobile Tak’, ‘News Tak’, ‘Astro Tak’, ‘Duniya Tak’, ‘Punjab Tak’, ‘U.P. Tak’, ‘M.P. Tak’, ‘Crime Tak’, ‘Gujarat Tak’ etc., were all registered in favour of the plaintiffs.

Taking note of the same, the bench also observed, "There can be no doubt that the reputation and goodwill in the name and trademark 'Aaj Tak' is well established. The television news channel 'Aaj Tak' is one of the most popular news channels in India. The mark 'TAK' is also used by the plaintiffs in respect of various programs and social media accounts, profiles, and handles. Thus, the Plaintiffs' rights deserve to be protected."

The bench also granted liberty to the parent company of Aaj Tak to approach the social media platforms for taking down prospective pages and posts that infringe their trademark. In case no action is taken by the social media company within 36 hours, liberty has been granted to the plaintiffs to approach the court again or avail any other remedy in accordance with the law.

The matter is listed to be heard next on August, 3.

(Explainer - A John Doe order is a type of pre-infringement injunction used to safeguard the creator's intellectual property rights in artistic works such as movies and songs. The Rolling Anton Pillar, Anton Pillar, or Ashok Kumar order is another name for the John Doe order.)

Case Title: Living Media India Limited and Anr v AabTak Channel.com (John Does) and Ors