Complainant is Amara Raja Batteries Limited, Kondapur, Andhra Pradesh, India, represented by Kochhar & Co., India.
Respondent is New Ventures Services, Corp, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Rivkin Radler LLP, United States of America.
The disputed domain name <amararaja.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 16, 2009. On March 17, 2009, the Center transmitted by e-mail to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 17, 2009, Network Solutions, LLC transmitted by e-mail to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the contact information in the Complaint.
The Center sent an e-mail communication to Complainant on March 24, 2009 providing contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on March 27, 2009. The Center verified that the amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 27, 2009. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 16, 2009. The Response was filed with the Center on April 21, 2009.
The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on May 7, 2009. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
In its discretion, the Panel accepted the untimely Response.
Complainant is a large India firm that manufactures, among other things, automotive and industrial batteries, and does so under the mark AMARARAJA.
Respondent's business deploys an automated program which identifies and registers domain names that others have allowed to expire. Respondent claims that it does not target the trademarks of others; it snaps up expired domain names based on the automated system. Respondent also claims that, whenever a trademark owner has asserted rights in connection with one of Respondent's domain names, Respondent voluntarily surrenders the domain name to that party.
In the present case, Respondent registered the Domain Name after it had been allowed to lapse by a third party that had held it for years. That party was not Complainant. It appears that Respondent had no notice of Complainant's objection to its registration of the Domain Name until this proceeding was commenced. Respondent also denies that it ever had any knowledge of Complainant or its mark.
After the Complaint was filed with the Center, Respondent sent several messages to Complainant offering to transfer the Domain Name. These messages went unanswered. On the basis of Complainant's refusal to respond to Respondent's effort to resolve this dispute amicably and without further action by the Panel, Respondent asks the Panel to find that this Complaint was brought in bad faith under Rule 15(e).
The Panel will not detail herein the parties' respective contentions, other than as reflected in the Factual Background section above, because the Panel will order the transfer of the Domain Name for the reasons set forth below.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy:
(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In the present case, the Panel need not decide whether Complainant has satisfied all three elements required for the transfer of the Domain Name. This is because Respondent has stated in its Response that it would accept, without any admission of liability or bad faith, a ruling that transfers the Domain Name to Complainant.
Accordingly, the Panel does not have to address the interesting issues in this case, including the legitimacy of a respondent that does not specifically have a complainant's mark in mind when registering a domain name but deploys an automated system to snap up expired domain names, indifferent to the trademark rights of others.
The Panel notes that there is precedent under the Policy for ordering the transfer of a domain name where a respondent has consented to the transfer. See, e.g., Williams-Sonoma, Inc. v. EZ-Port, WIPO Case No. D2000-0207 (May 5, 2000); Valero Energy Corporation, Valero Refining and Marketing Company v. RareNames, WebReg, WIPO Case No. D2006-1336 (December 22, 2006).
While the Complaint suffered from some difficulties the Panel declines to rule that Complainant acted in violation of Rule 15(e) as a “Reverse Domain Name Highjacker.” The Panel is also at a loss to understand why Complainant failed to respond to Respondent's multiple attempts to resolve the dispute amicably with a transfer. Nonetheless, it cannot be said that the Complaint itself was brought in the first instance with any improper motive. Respondent's request for a finding of Complainant bad faith under Rule 15(e) is denied.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <amararaja.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Robert A. Badgley
Dated: May 19, 2009