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The real owner behind the wheel @maruti.com

New Delhi, May 19: Indian car major Maruti Udyog Ltd has won its domain name maruti.com from the cyber-squatter who has been squatting its site since 1999.

The company will formally register itself as maruti.com from the current website address of marutiudyog.com on Tuesday. The company will also initiate a legal action against the cyber-squatter and his Hyderabad-based nephew in whose name he had been squatting.

Early this month, the WIPO arbitration and mediation centre, in an administrative panel decision, directed the cyber-squatter, Tella Rao, a non-resident Indian based in the US to vacate the domain name. Maruti had claimed in its petition that, “Rao had registered and misused the domain name commercially, banking on the undoubted reputation of the leading Indian car maker to draw internet traffic from India.”

Maruti expects to have the name transferred on May 20, until which time users attempting to reach the company through maruti.com will have to content themselves with the present site name, marutiudyog.com.

Maruti had recently recovered a host of related site names, including marutisuzuki.com (the squatter was an Indore-based company), maruti.net, marutionline.com, and marutidealers.com. In all, Maruti has prosecuted and won back sites from eight cyber-squatters.

Sources in Maruti said: “Earlier, we tried to recover maruti.com in 2000. At that time, the WIPO panel was misled by a false document passed off by Tella Rao as the birth certificate of his nephew, Tella Maruti Srinivas, and had ruled in his favour. This fakery was exposed on investigation by the vigilance division of Maruti.”

That panel decision emboldened the cyber-squatter, who has earlier attempted to grab cyber addresses of well-known Indian companies and trademarks like onida.com, herohonda.com, and even American ones like aolbox.com. Sources in Maruti claimed that, “He (Rao) brazenly linked the site to a commercial search engine, which paid him for clicks. Given the enormous popularity of Maruti, he expected to mint money with no effort.”

“This led to his downfall. The WIPO panel has found ‘evidence of a pattern of conduct’, ‘bad faith’, and that Tella Rao ‘lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name’,” sources said.

Maruti is planning to file a case against Rao and his nephew in India as well as under the US anti-cyber-squatting laws.

Meanwhile, Maruti Suzuki has launched the world’s first Hindi automobile website for its van — Omni.

“Communicating to the customers in the language they are most comfortable with will go a long way towards widening the Omni customer base,” said a company spokesperson.

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