High Court directs Amazon to remove listings of products branded as ‘ROOH AFZA’, not originating from Hamdard India

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The Honorable High Court of Delhi in the case of National Hamdard Foundation (India) & Anr. V. Amazon India Limited & Anr. ordered Amazon India to remove listings of famous “ROOH AFZA” products not originating from the Hamdard indigenous group, thereby granting an interim injunction in favor of the plaintiff.

Background

This lawsuit has been brought by Hamdard National Foundation (India) and Hamdard Dawakhana (hereinafter the “Claimants”) against Amazon India Limited and M/s. Golden Leaf alleging the unauthorized sale of goods bearing Plaintiff’s mark “ROOH AFZA”.

This is the case of the applicants who came across the listing of products bearing the mark “ROOF AFZA” on the Amazon website under the name “M/s”. Golden leaf’. The coordinates of M/s. Golden Leaf’ were introduced as ‘C/o Amazon Sellers Services Pvt. Ltd’. As a result, the plaintiffs made purchases of products bearing the mark “ROOF AFZA” and were shocked to learn that these were not manufactured by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs alleged that the products they purchased were manufactured by a ‘Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf), Pakistan, purporting to be from Karachi, Pakistan. Plaintiffs further argued that other than the name of the manufacturer, no other information about the manufacturer was mentioned on the product. Apart from the above assertions, the plaintiff also alleged that it was difficult for him to know how these infringing goods were imported from Pakistan when it is clear that the plaintiffs have statutory trademark rights in India.

Findings of the Court

Initially, the Court, while upholding the goodwill and reputation associated with the trademark ‘ROOH AFZA’, observed that ‘obviously, ‘ROOH AFZA’ has been a product consumed by the Indian public for over a century. The same being a beverage intended for human consumption, the quality standards must comply with the applicable regulations prescribed by the FSSAI and the LMA.” The Court also expressed concern over the disputed listing of the “ROOH AFZA” products. on the Amazon India website and judged that “It is surprising that an imported product is sold on the www.amazon.in platform without the full details of the manufacturer being disclosed. Additionally, when the “Visit Hamdard Store” link is clicked, which is provided next to Defendant #2’s product listing, the consumer is redirected to the web page of CS (COMM) 607/2022 Page 7 of 9 ‘Hamdard Laboratories India’ at www.amazon.com, which belongs to the plaintiffs. Thus, any consumer or user of the platform www.amazon.in is likely to confuse the product ‘ROOH AFZA’ from Hamdard Laboratories (Waqf ), Pakistan as being related to or from Claimants. Until and unless the consumer actually receives the product, the consumer has no way of knowing whether the product being sold is Claimant’s or not. This may have a negative impact on consumers, as the contact details of sellers are not known”.

While noting that Amazon India is an intermediary, the Court held that “since www.amazon.fr claims to be an intermediary, it has an obligation to disclose sellers’ names, contact details, etc., on product listings”. Accordingly, Amazon India has been requested to file an affidavit clarifying the contact details of the sellers, full addresses and contact details mentioned on the ROOH AFZA product listings.

In addition, the following additional instructions have been issued by the Court:

  • Lists of counterfeit “ROOH AFZA” products on the website www.amazon.fr not originating from the applicants had to be deleted within 48 hours. It was also instructed by the court that if the plaintiffs have details of said URLs, these details must be submitted to Amazon India;
  • Amazon India has also been instructed to verify who are the sellers selling ‘ROOH AFZA’ products on its platform and if any of the said products are found not to be from the complainants, their listings have been ordered d be deleted immediately. ;
  • If any of the product listings indicate that the products are manufactured or sourced from the applicants, in such a situation, www.amazon.fr has been instructed to give notice to said vendor to confirm that the same are from the claimants and if so, such listings will be retained;
  • The Court noted that since Amazon Sellers claims to be an intermediary under the Information Technology Act 2000, it was ordered to file an affidavit stating whether the sellers details, including the place of manufacture of the products, sellers full address and contact details including phone number, email address etc. are mentioned on ROOH AFZA product listings, invoices, product labels, etc. If the same are not available on product listings, Amazon Sellers has further been instructed to clarify as to how consumers expect to get these details from www.amazon.fr Platform;
  • Amazon Sellers has been asked to provide seller contact information for all “ROOH AFZA” product listings on its website to requesters, within one week, who may then take action as required by law for work, etc., if advised;
  • Plaintiffs have been authorized to notify Amazon sellers of any listings they may encounter, even in the future, regarding “ROOH AFZA” branded products that are not manufactured and sold by Plaintiffs so that these can be immediately removed from the website. within 48 hours of notification.

Conclusion

This case is an important step in the development of case law in the e-commerce space as well as the liability of intermediaries. In a virtual market place, where interactions between buyers and sellers are limited to the services offered by the World Wide Web, regulating this space is the need of the hour. In particular, court-issued instructions to Amazon India to clarify how consumers are supposed to obtain important details from their platform, are instrumental in ensuring that these platforms do not turn into “anonymous marketplaces” for vulnerable consumers.

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