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Winzo Secures Big Relief Against Trademark Infringers

To gain popularity amongst the masses for curating any niche service or by using innovation to forge a novel product requires years of dedication and hard work. However, once the said popularity is achieved and public lime light is received, the hard working brand/ company quite often invites unwarranted attention from competitors and rogue entities whose sole aim is to ride upon the goodwill of the brand name that attains such popularity.

In the context of India Digital Gaming Industry, ever since its inception in 2016, Winzo Games Private Limited has carved out its niche by coming up with its hugely popular brand name known as “WinZO/WINZO” that represents a popular online skill-based gaming platform that has caught the attention of millions.

Thus, having caught the eye of millions, WINZO has also attracted unwarranted attention from competing entities and one such attempt to ride over the goodwill of WINZO paved the way of the present suit filed by Winzo Games Private Limited (‘Plaintiff’) before Delhi High Court seeking permanent injunction to restrain the Defendants from infringing the registered marks i.e., “WinZO/ WinZO Games/ WINZO”.

The Plaintiff ever since launching in 2017 has garnered more than 100 million users, particularly in Tier-2 cities and rural India and claims to be the largest social gaming app in India in terms of offering variety of games and formats in multiple languages. The Plaintiff by putting on their creative hat came up with the unique mark having a combination of ‘Win’ & ‘Zo’ signifying speed and energy and thus, what has accumulated so far is immense popularity and goodwill.

The bone of contention in the present matter happened to be such that, in October, 2022, the Plaintiff came across the Apple App Store where Defendant No. 1 i.e., Bajaar LLC, a Houston based US Company was offering its own application known as ‘WINZOS!’ on the said app store and its associated website and the Defendant was offering services very similar to that offered by the Plaintiff under the trade marks ‘WinZO’, ‘WINGO GAMES’, ‘WINZO’. On further investigation, the Plaintiff discovered that the said infringing application was easily accessible in India through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

To curb this infringing act, the Plaintiff duly issued a Cease and Desist notice to the Defendants in October 2022 itself and sought removal of the infringing app and websites from various app stores. The Defendant countered the notice stating that, the said application was used in a jurisdiction outside that of the Plaintiff.

However, taking a holistic view of the situation, the Delhi High Court sided with the Plaintiff observing that there is a serious possibility of the domain name being misused since the Plaintiff operates a gaming app under the said mark and since WINZO was a registered mark and the Plaintiff had attained global recognition, misuse of the name would be impermissible. Moreover, the Defendants being present in India could not be allowed to take shelter of technological tools to stay away from the Court while continuing to operate the platform.

Thus, the Court ordered a permanent injunction against the Defendants from using the mark ‘WinZO’/ ‘WinZO Games’/ ‘WINZO’ or any other deceptively similar mark as that of the Plaintiff. Furthermore, the Court granted the Plaintiff liberty to request Google LLC to take down the infringing domain names and links from the Chrome Webstore within 72 hours.

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