Home / Companies / NSE alleges software trademark violation; sues domain registrar

Mumbai: The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has dragged global domain name registrar GoDaddy and a Hyderabad-based technology firm to the Bombay high court over alleged copyright and trademark infringement of its software.

The case relates to NSE’s online trading platform NOW, which allows its subscribers to view and use its database and analysis based on primary data, to execute trades in real time, for a fee. The platform has over 500,000 subscribers.

In its plea, NSE, along with its group firm DotEx International Ltd, has alleged that Hyderabad-based Manshi Systems had been allowing customers to access the NSE Now platform and data available on it via its own software at prices far lower than those charged by NSE.

This is being done without authorization from the stock exchange, it said.

The website of Manshi Systems is hosted by the Indian arm of GoDaddy Operating Co. Llc, making both parties to the case.

“The plaintiffs have filed the suit for the wrongful acts of infringement of copyright in computer database, wrongful use of primary data, and compilation of database and trademark infringement...," stated the petition, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

Hearing on the petition, which was due to take place on Tuesday, was adjourned until 28 April.

DotEx International converts raw market data into various statistical formats for trade analysis and execution of trades on NOW. It is also the owner of the compiled data or computer data base. Apart from providing real time data feed, the NOW terminal offers its subscribers services like calculation tools, customizable alerts, hourly statistics, security information and trade analysis derived from transactions on NSE.

According to the petition filed by NSE, computer database is an “original literary work within the meaning of the Copyright Act 1957" and any unauthorized use of such work is illegal.

While the website has been pulled down temporarily, GoDaddy still remains the registrar. GoDaddy is the world’s largest domain registrar with 57 million domain names under its management, according to the firm’s website. The registrar hosts most of the leading e-commerce websites in India such as Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and Snapdeal.

Rajiv Sodhi, vice-president and managing director of GoDaddy India Domains and Hosting Services Pvt. Ltd, declined to comment on the case, saying the company does not speak on litigations.

An email sent to Manshi Systems did not elicit a response. Phone calls to the company were not answered.

Launched in 2008, NOW subscription was offered for free till November 2012. Since then NSE has been charging a subscription fee from its customers. It also has eight trademarks containing the expression NOW.

According to Manish Saurastri, a partner at Krishna and Saurastri Associates and a lawyer representing NSE in the case, Manshi was selling its software ManshiRT to its clients for downloading NSE’s NOW. NSE’s spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Saurastri said, “This is probably the first case in the high court that deals with copyright, trademark infringement of a real time database. The outcome will set a precedent for all such cases."

Experts said GoDaddy could be liable under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2008.

Pavan Duggal, a cyber law expert, said, “Both the companies (GoDaddy Llc and GoDaddy India) are covered under the IT law as intermediaries. All intermediaries are mandated to exercise due diligence while discharging their obligation under the law. Here the onus will be upon the intermediaries to prove in the court that they had exercised due diligence to safeguard against copyright infringement."

Duggal said had the due diligence been done, the activity (hosting Manshi Systems) would not have taken place. “Both the companies could be liable under the Copyright Act and IT Act," he added.

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