Trade barriers between countries can not only cost you business but also your domain name. This was proved in the recent judgment dated 19th August, by a WIPO Administrative Panel’s Alan L. Limbury, in a domain name dispute between an Indian company and a Pakistani company. The complaint, Mahashian Di Hatti Limited (trading as MDH Spices), a famous Indian company selling spices and condiments under the logo MDH, had filed a complain for transfer of domain name www.mdhfoods.com registered by Syed Hussnain Ali Kazmi of Muhammad Dawood Hassan Food Company, a Pakistani company

The complaint (MDH Spices) in nearly a century long business, had acquired repute among Indian and Pakistani nationals and had also obtained registration of its mark MDH in at least 10 other countries other than India, however due to trade barrier between India and Pakistan it did not sell its product in Pakistan. On the other hand Muhammad Dawood Hassan Food Company (trading as MDH foods) had been selling spices and claimed to be in business since 1983 and has also applied for registration of the mark MDH in Pakistan.

The panelist though accepting that the disputed domain name was confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark noted that the respondent had legitimate rights to use the name.

Noting that the Complainant does not sell its goods into Pakistan, (and consequently may not enjoy there the same fame as it claims to enjoy elsewhere) the panelist adjudicates that this left a possibility the Respondent did not have the Complainant in mind when registering the disputed domain name. He further went to note that there was evidence the Respondent, whose trading name incorporates the initials MDH (standing for Muhammad Dawood Hassan),  has been trading in foods and spices and advertising under the MDH mark in Pakistan since 1984 and had also applied to register that mark in that country (Pakistan) before registering the dsiputed domain name. Therefore on the above reasoning, the panel noted the complaint had failed to prove absence of legitimate rights on the part of the Respondent and thus the request for the domain name transfer was denied.

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