[Exclusive] WinZO Games sues rummy portal A23 for trademark infringement using meta tags

Delhi based WinZO Games had sued Head Digital Works Private Limited, the operator of rummy portal A23, social gaming platform Witty Games for a trademark before the Delhi High Court (Delhi HC). The suit is filed by WinZO seeking a permanent and mandatory injunction restraining Head Digital from infringement of trademarks, passing off, etc.

WinZO alleged that a user searching for “WinZo” or “WinZo Games” on a search engine would see the A23 website, with the title “WinZo game-Get Rs.50 instant Free Cash-a23.com” as one of the first search results. The gaming company contended that A23 is piggyback riding on the reputation of WinZO.

Also read: Is Winzo offering “Roulette” as “Spin Science”?

As per the order of Delhi HC, a Cease and Desist Notice issued to Head Digital on 11th November 2021 has not been responded to, though a WhatsApp message sent by the Co-founder and Director of Head Digital has elicited an assurance that the matter would be looked into. Despite the assurances, WinZO alleged that the change that has been brought about was to split the word into “Win Zo” instead of completely removing it.

WinZo relied on People Interactive (I) Pvt. Ltd. v. Gaurav Jerry, 2014 SCC OnLine Bom 4607 to contend that the meta tag/title tag used by the A23 is found to be violative of the trademark WinZO and is liable to be taken down as being an infringement. The Court found that there is a prima facie case in favour of WinZO and has restrained A23 from using “WinZO” and “Win ZO” on its website or in advertisements till the next date of hearing.

In the People Interactive case, the Bombay High Court held that illicit use of meta tags can be severely damaging. “There could be no better evidence of passing off, confusion and deception. This is, plainly, hijacking the Plaintiffs’ reputation and goodwill and riding piggyback on the Plaintiffs’ valuable intellectual property,the Bombay High Court held.

In another case before Delhi HC, Moonshine Technology Private Limited, the owner PokerBaazi, BalleBaazi had sued WinZO for restraining from using marks WinzoBaazi, WinzoBaazi I. This case was last heard on 1 December and is now reserved for judgement.

WinZO recently filed a petition before Odisha High Court challenging the Odisha Prevention of Gambling Act, 1955 as unconstitutional. The law prohibits all forms of gaming for stakes. The social gaming company also partnered with French gaming major Gameloft to bring Asphalt to the vernacular audience.