Delhi High Court orders Google to suspend URLs of forms posted by Starbucks franchisee impersonators

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The Delhi High Court on Monday directed Google LLC to suspend URLs of certain Google forms seeking invitations for a ‘Starbucks franchise’. [Starbucks Corporation and Anr v. National Internet Exchange of India and Ors]
It is pertinent to note that Starbucks does not operate on a franchise model in India.

Justice Anish Dayal took the view that Starbucks was entitled to relief on account of the forms being posted by imposters to elicit private information and data from the general public.

“In the opinion of this Court, the plaintiffs would be entitled to the relief they seek in this application, on account of not only that these Google Forms are being posted by imposters in order to elicit information relating to Starbucks franchise (which do not exist in India) as well as seeking private information and data from the general public, which cannot be countenanced,” the Court order stated.

The Court was hearing an application in a trademark and copyright infringement suit by Starbucks.

In April 2023, the Court had passed an interim injunction in favour of the coffee chain.

However, after certain entities were found impersonating Starbucks franchisees through Google forms, it moved an application to have the URLs to the forms suspended.

Counsel for Starbucks stated that the imposters were seeking information from the general public to apply for Starbucks franchise opportunities, which do not exist in India.

Counsel for Google LLC stated that they had no issue with the relief sought, as long as the URLs which were listed by Starbucks related to the subject matter of the suit.

After counsel for Starbucks confirmed that the URLs listed in the plaint related only to Google Forms which were eliciting information for Starbucks franchises, the Court ordered suspension of the URLs within a week.

Starbucks was represented by Advocates Rima Majumdar and Shilpi Sinha.

Google LLC was represented by Advocates Neel Mason, Vihan Dang, Ujjawal Bhargava and Pragya Jain.

Advocates Harish Vaidyanathan Shankar, Srish Kumar Mishra, Alexander Mathai Paikaday and Krishnan V appeared for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Advocate Chhavi Arora represented National Internet Exchange of India.

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