Airtel, India’s largest private GSM carrier, has finally got control of airtel.com domain name. Until now, airtel.in was the official homepage for Airtel. Earlier, Vodafone controlled airtel.com, which represented Airtel Movil of Spain, a carrier in which Vodafone had acquired a majority stake in 2000.
However, the domain airtel.com was put up for auction sometime earlier this year and 21-year-old Ramandeep Singh had won the bid. In February, Singh sent out a Tweet that read: “I have secured airtel.com for your company. airtel.com looks better than airtel.in. Please contact me on [telephone number given] very soon.” (Emphasis mine.)
This Tweet alerted Airtel’s battery of lawers who not only pursued Singh but the registrar of the domain name USA Webhost Inc. The domain airtel.com was finally transferred to Airtel on July 9, via a WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre order. The case proceedings make for an interesting read with comments like these:
“I was very sorry for this. I was not the owner of this domain then please forgive me. I am only 21 and new to internet and I don’t know about Trademarks. I am sorry. I will not do this again.”
“I already sorrow for this. I am only 21 and new to internet domains. I don’t even know about TM domains and airtel such a huge company wants to fight with a child. I am saying that I am sorry.”
“Sir, I am sorry for my done. But you are making me ill. Please forgive me.”
Check out the proceedings here.
A quick update. We have been receiving lots of Tweets regarding this story. While some say our story seems to be biased in favour of the 21-year-old Ramandeep Singh. It is simply not the case. (Some think that the word ‘snatches’ is not justified in the headline. Point taken.)
We have no doubt that Singh was basically a (wannabe?) domain squatter, considering that he had just won the bid and had not paid the registrar to acquire the domain name, yet.
The question we’d like to raise: Why was Airtel unaware that the domain airtel.com had been put up for sale? It came to know about it only after Singh approached the company via Twitter with this Tweet: “I have secured airtel.com for your company. airtel.com looks better than airtel.in. Please contact me on [telephone number given] very soon.”