WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Besloten Vennootschap IVX Networks Europe B.V. v. Domain Admin
Case No. D2011-0489
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Besloten Vennootschap IVX Networks Europe B.V. of Nieuw Vossemeer, the Netherlands, represented by Advocatenkantoor Meijnen, the Netherlands.
The Respondent is Domain Admin of Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, represented by Vani Tottempudi, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ivx.com> is registered with Moniker Online Services, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 16, 2011. On March 16, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Moniker Online Services, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 17, 2011, Moniker Online Services, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 21, 2011 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on March 21, 2011.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to the 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 paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a) of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on April 12, 2011. In accordance with paragraph 5(a) of the Rules, the due date for Response was May 2, 2011. The Response was filed with the Center on May 2, 2011 by a certain Ramaprasad Cherukuri in the name of the Respondent and using the email address provided by the Registrar for the Respondent. In the Response, Mr. Cherukuri requested further time to provide additional evidence allegedly not available to him during the time limit set out for the Response because he was travelling with his family in the United States of America. On May 4, 2011, the Center received an email communication with additional documents from the Respondent’s registrar-confirmed email address.
The Center appointed Brigitte Joppich (Presiding), Petter Rindforth and David E. Sorkin as panelists in this matter on June 1, 2011. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of the Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a Dutch company specialized in international domain name registration, brand name protection, brand name management, and webhosting services and was established in 2002.
The Complainant is the registered owner of Community trademark registration no. 005546726 IVX applied for on December 12, 2006 and registered on February 11, 2009, which covers services in classes 35, 38 and 42. Furthermore, the Complainant is the registered owner of numerous domain names including the term “ivx” which are used in connection with its business, inter alia <ivx.net> and <ivx.info>.
The disputed domain name was first registered on December 23, 1995 by a company named Ivx Infusion Inc. and was transferred to a certain “Rama Prasad” or “Ramaprasad” Cherukuri in early 2007. Before being privacy shielded in mid 2007, the disputed domain name had been transferred several times. The disputed domain name has not been used in connection with an active website since 2007.
The Complainant contacted the Respondent several times with regard to the acquisition of the disputed domain name since 2007. The Complainant’s latest offer to pay USD 13,000 dates back to January 28, 2011. This offer was refused by the Respondent, asking for USD 15,000 for the transfer of the disputed domain name while stating that “in the coming months we are actually going to contact some of the big companies using the name “ivx”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that each of the three elements specified in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is given in the present case:
(1) The disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s highly distinctive and highly reputed trademark and trade name “IVX” as it wholly incorporates the term “ivx” and as the extension “.com” may be disregarded for the purpose of determining whether a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark.
(2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as it has no trademark rights or other legitimate rights in the term ”ivx”, as the disputed domain name has not been used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, as “IVX” is not a trade name of the Respondent, as the Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant, and as the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name but is offering the disputed domain name for sale.
(3) The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant contends that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant and its commercial activities based on the fame and reputation of the Complainant’s IVX mark and trade name and the fact that the Complainant had registered and was using numerous domain names containing the word ”ivx” at the time of the acquisition of the disputed domain name by the Respondent. Furthermore, the Complainant states that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s rights in IVX as the Respondent itself stated in an email communication that it wanted to sell the disputed domain name to “the big companies using the name IVX”. The Complainant argues that the fact that the Respondent had never actively used the disputed domain name indicates that it acquired the disputed domain name solely for the purpose of selling it to the Complainant or other companies with rights in IVX for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name. The Complainant finally contends that the Respondent’s bad faith is supported by the finding that the disputed domain name was registered anonymously.
The Respondent denies the Complainant’s contentions. It states that the disputed domain name was acquired in connection with the start-up of a business, namely Internet Viral Xpress (IVX), which never became operative.
The Respondent further states that it never actively contacted the Complainant regarding the sale of the disputed domain name but only responded to the Complainant’s offers, that it had no knowledge of the Complainant when acquiring the disputed domain name, and that the term “ivx” is substantially used by third parties and might even be understood as generic. Finally, the Respondent states that private registration is in itself not sufficient for a finding of bad faith.
6. Discussion and Findings
The first point to be dealt with is the question of whether or not to accept the additional filing of the Respondent two days after the expiry of the deadline for filing the Response. According to paragraph 14 of the Rules, the Panel need not consider the filing in such a case (but can take it into account if there are good reasons for it to apply its discretion) and draw inferences as it considers appropriate. Late documents were considered by previous panels in particular where they were filed before the commencement of the decision-making process (cf. e.g. J.P. Morgan & Co., Incorporated and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York v. Resource Marketing, WIPO Case No. D2000-0035) or where the lateness did not delay the decision (cf. e.g. Young Genius Software AB .v. MWD, James Vargas, WIPO Case No. D2000-0591). Although this Panel is also aware of decisions by previous panels rejecting documents filed out of time, it considers it more important that each party is given a fair opportunity to present its case than to penalize the Respondent for a slight delay, especially in a case like the present, where the Respondent filed a response within the deadline and asked for an extension based on reasonable arguments. The Respondent’s second communication is therefore taken into consideration as well.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the following three elements is present:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark; and
(ii) the 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has proved to be the owner of the Community trademark registration No. 005546726 for IVX.
The disputed domain name fully incorporates the Complainant’s IVX mark and therefore is identical to such mark. It is well established that the specific top level domain name generally is not an element of distinctiveness that can be taken into consideration when evaluating the identity or confusing similarity between the complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name (cf. Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525; Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429; Phenomedia AG v. Meta Verzeichnis Com, WIPO Case No. D2001-0374).
Therefore, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy sets out three illustrative circumstances as examples which, if established by a respondent, shall demonstrate its rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, i.e.
(i) before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, the use by the respondent of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent (as an individual, business or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert customers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
Even though the Policy requires the complainant to prove that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, it is the consensus view among panelists that a complainant has to make only a prima facie case to fulfill the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. As a result, the burden of coming forward with evidence of the respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name will then shift to the respondent.
The Complainant has substantiated that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the Complainant has fulfilled its obligations under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
In its Response, the Respondent stated that the disputed domain name was acquired in connection with the start-up of a business named Internet Viral Xpress (IVX) and provided evidence that such company had already been created in 2005, prior to the Complainant’s trademark application for IVX. However, the Respondent itself confirmed that such company never came to action. Therefore, it is questionable whether the Respondent can still claim any rights or legitimate interests relying on its business activities in 2005.
However, in the light of the Panel's finding under the head of “Bad Faith” (cf. 6.C. below), it is not necessary for the Panel to come to a decision in this regard.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out four illustrative circumstances, which are evidence of the registration and use of the domain name in bad faith for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, i.e:
(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trade mark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the respondent's documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trade mark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the respondent's website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.
The circumstances mentioned in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are not exclusive. The Complainant must show that the domain name was registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith (cf. Telstra Corporation Limited. v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; Telstra Corporation Limited v. Adult Web Development and Telstraexposed, WIPO Case No. D2002-0952; Prada S.A. v. Mr. Chuan Sheng Wang, WIPO Case No. D2003-0758).
With regard to bad faith registration, the Complainant contends that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant and its commercial activities when acquiring the disputed domain name based on the fame and reputation of the Complainant’s trademark and trade name and the fact that the Complainant used numerous domain names containing word “ivx” at that time.
The Respondent denies these assertions and provided evidence inter alia that the Respondent made demonstrable preparations to start a new business named Internet Viral Xpress (IVX) in 2005. In particular, the Respondent supplied documents related to a loan secured before starting the company, a contract related to the development of the company website and an offer letter sent out to hire a project manager for Internet Viral Xpress (IVX). The Respondent states that the disputed domain name was acquired for use in connection with such company.
Based on the overall evaluation of the evidence provided to the Panel, the Panel finds that the materials presented to the Panel do not support a finding that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the Complainant in mind and therefore in bad faith for the following reasons: The Complainant did not provide sufficient evidence that its trademark and trade name IVX were in fact famous at the time of the acquisition of the disputed domain name by the Respondent, and that the Respondent, located in India, must necessarily have been aware of the Dutch Complainant and its Community trademark for IVX. Moreover, the Respondent provided evidence that the disputed domain name was acquired in connection with the start-up of a business, namely Internet Viral Xpress (IVX). In the opinion of the Panel, the fact that the Respondent tried to market the disputed domain name after it was clear that the company Internet Viral Xpress (IVX) would not came to action, is not conclusive of the Respondent's intent at the time of the acquisition of the disputed domain name.
Finally, the Respondent’s use of a privacy service does not lead as such to a finding of bad faith (cf. Freistaat Bayern v. Jim van Dijk, WIPO Case No. D2009-0723).
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has not satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
7. Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
The Respondent requests a finding of reverse domain name hijacking. This is defined in the Rules as “using the Policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain-name holder of a domain name.” Moreover, paragraph 15(e) of the Rules provides as follows: “If after considering the submissions the Panel finds that the complaint was brought in bad faith, for example in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking or was brought primarily to harass the domain-name holder, the Panel shall declare in its decision that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding.”
In the present case, the Panel finds no support for such claim. The Complainant seems to believe in its rights in the disputed domain name in good faith, and the Complainant’s filing as such is not an abuse of the Policy (cf. Rusconi Editore S.P.A. v. Bestinfo, WIPO Case No. D2001-0656; ECG European City Guide v. Woodell, NAF Claim No. 183897).
For all the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.
David E. Sorkin
Dated: June 14, 2011