Govt asks startup entrepreneur to surrender his firm’s web identity, StartUp India !!
Delhi based startup entrepreneur asked by a government department to cancel his web domain StartupIndia.in
Delhi based company Startup Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, a company incorporated in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in July 2015 is served a notice by The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) demanding cancellation of the domain registered by the firm in 2014 around 2 years before government launched its flagship program “Startup India” as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The demand to cancel the domain has come from Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. In an email sent by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to the entrepreneur on May 29th, it mentions that the “domain is misleading and is in violation with the Startup India program.”
The website – ‘StartupIndia.in’ has now also put up a disclaimer citing that it has nothing to do with the government’s initiative of Startup India.
A senior government official who is familiar with the working of NIXI on the condition of anonymity told Moneycontrol that if the government wants a particular domain, the registrant is bound to do away with it.
“NIXI only acts if someone — a government department, asks for it. NIXI doesn’t have any kind of power vested within that it can hold, block or transfer a domain. But whenever a government entity gives it some kind of a directive, then NIXI has to act,” he said adding that in case the owner of the domain wants to contest this, it can be done at a court’s level.
Cyberlaw experts say that such a directive can be challenged legally and it may encourage entrepreneurs to book less of ‘.in’ domains. “There is no government rule or regulation that nobody can have startupindia.in. The message coming out (from the government) is not very healthy. This person registered the domain much before the Startup India programme. Any government rule can only be prospective in nature, it can’t be retrospective,” said Pavan Duggal, cyber law expert and advocate, Supreme Court of India.
According to experts, booking domain names happens on a first come first serve basis. If there’s a conflict, the case mostly goes through a dispute resolution mechanism. If someone has booked a similar looking or similar type of domain, then it goes to an arbitrator.
What is embarrassing in this case is that people in the government who booked the domain for government’s StartUp India program, did not realize this at the time of booking the domain. They could have at that time either booked another domain or asked owners of all the related domains to surrender there domains at that time. Simply they could have bought out these domains at that point of time.
“Mostly people book private companies’ names, not government ones. If they book government related schemes or names, they may not gain much in monetary benefit,” said Dr Govind, former chief executive officer of NIXI.
“If someone feels his name has been taken by an entity before or after, he can go through these arbitrators, and prove that his business will be affected if someone has taken their name,” he added.
Another domain and policy matters expert who chose to remain anonymous said that in this case the domain owner’s registration is ‘really old makes his case strong’. The company — Startup India Advisory Pvt Ltd, also has a registration with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which could give the domain owner an additional advantage, the expert claimed.
The domain StartupIndia.in is not the only one that looks similar to the government initiated program. Another South Delhi-based organisation called startup-india.org helps entrepreneurs launch and scale social innovation ventures.
Another domain called StartupIndia.org has been registered in the name of one Narasimhan Kasthurirengan, with his address at Cupertino, California dated February, 2011.
Lets see how much power government exerts on this one.