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Mankind Pharma Limited v/s Lee Pharmaceuticals of Lee House

    CS (COMM) No. 483 of 2016 & CCP (O) No. 49 of 201 & I.A. No. 6903 of 2017
    Decided On, 12 July 2019
    At, High Court of Delhi
    For the Petitioner: Hemant Daswani, Anmol Saxena, Advocates. For the Respondent: None.

Judgment Text
The Plaintiff has filed the present suit seeking a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant Lee Pharmaceuticals of Lee House from using the content of the Plaintiffs website. The Plaintiff Mankind Pharma Limited is, as the name suggests, a pharmaceutical company selling various medicinal preparations and over the counter drugs (OTCs). The Plaintiff has various domain names registered in its name with the mark MANKIND, however, the main website of the Plaintiff is www.mankindpharma.com. The said website has been originally designed by the Plaintiff to promote its business. It has a large amount of unique content, including information about the Plaintiff, images of products manufactured, and other details. The Defendant, according to the Plaintiff was incorporated in 2013 and its headquarters is in Chennai. The Plaintiff came to know on 27th February, 2014 that the Defendant had registered a website by the name www.leepharmaceuticals.in. A perusal of the website revealed that the entire website, including the photographs, images, etc. of the Plaintiff has been copied by the Defendant. Accordingly, the Plaintiff had filed the present suit. Vide order dated 3rd March, 2014, this Court had granted an ad-interim injunction in the following terms:

7. The defendants are accordingly restrained till the next date of hearing by ex-parte ad interim injunction from infringing the copyright of the plaintiff by posting and operating any website containing contents which resemble the contents of the plaintiffs website www.mankindpharma.com and/or its including the photographs and the web contents.

2. After the filing of the present suit, the Defendant was duly served with the summons of the suit and the notice of the applications. The Defendant, however failed to appear before this Court and was proceeded ex-parte vide order dated 11th August, 2015. The Plaintiff realised that despite the injunction order, the Defendant continued to use the content of the Plaintiffs website. Accordingly, it filed a contempt being CCP (O) 49/2015. Ld. counsel for the Plaintiff submits that it is only upon the contempt being filed that the Defendant took down the infringing content from its website. In fact, the website itself has been taken down, according to the Ld. counsel. However, while having taken down the website, the Defendant chose not to appear before the Court at all. The Court, at the time when the Defendant was proceeded ex-parte, had directed the Plaintiff to file its affidavit by way of evidence. PW-1 was examined and discharged on 10th April, 2019 as well.

3. Ld. Counsel for the Plaintiff has taken the Court through various printouts of the Plaintiffs and the Defendants websites. A bare perusal of the same shows that the website of the Defendant is identical in terms of the content of the text, images, tabs and various features. Ld. counsel also points out that in one case, where the Plaintiff has called its research centre as Mankind Research Centre (MRC), the Defendant though terming its research centre as Lee Research Centre still continues to use the abbreviation MRC. This shows that the Defendant has unabashedly copied the Plaintiffs website and its contents despite not having any rights in the same whatsoever. The Defendant, being in the same field as the Plaintiff i.e. pharmaceuticals and considering the nature of the online website use by customers and other members of the general public, there is bound to be deception. Illustratively, two of the printouts are set out below to show the identical copying by the Defendant.

Screenshot from Plaintiffs Website

Screenshot from Defendants Website

The above two screenshots are merely illustrative in nature. There are several other website pages which have been copied. Use of such identical content is not only infringement of the Plaintiffs copyright but could also lead to misrepresentation that the Defendant is either affiliated to, or is a group company of the Plaintiff.

4. Under these circumstances, considering the evidence that has been placed on record by the Plaintiff, including the affidavit-in-evidence which has been tendered by the authorised signatory of the Plaintiff and the content of the website of the Defendant being identical, a permanent injunction is liable to be granted in favour of the Plaintiff against the Defendant restraining the Defendant from in any manner infringing the copyright of the Plaintiff in the con

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tents of its website www.mankindpharma.com. Further, the Defendant is also restrained from passing off its business as being affiliated to that of the Plaintiff. 5. The suit is accordingly, decreed in the above terms. Decree sheet be drawn accordingly. All pending I.As are also disposed of. 6. In view of the fact that a permanent injunction has been passed today, the Ld. counsel does not press the contempt application, and accordingly CCP (O) 49/2015 is dismissed as withdrawn.