World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Shri Ram Chandra Mission v. Source Edge / PrivacyProtect.org

Case No. D2011-1573

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Shri Ram Chandra Mission of Shahjahanpur, India, represented by Amarjit & Associates Advocates, India.

The Respondent is Source Edge of Karnataka, India; and PrivacyProtect.org, Domain Admin of Munsbach, Australia.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sahajmargsystem.com> is registered with Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 19, 2011. On September 19, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 20, 2011, Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name that differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 26, 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 September 30, 2011.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 4, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 24, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 31, 2011.

The Center appointed Harini Narayanswamy as the sole panelist in this matter on November 11, 2011. 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.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is a spiritual organization that has popularized the “Sahaj Marg” system of meditation. The Complainant owns the following registered trademarks in India and other countries for the mark SAHAJ MARG.

Indian Trademark registration number 991212 dated February 19, 2001 under class 16 for trademark SAHAJ MARG, Indian Trademark registration number 991213 dated February 19, 2001 under class 9 for the trademark SAHAJ MARG.

Indian Trademark registration 1469043 dated July 11, 2006 in class 41 for SAHAJ MARG PRACTICE. Indian Trademark registration 1288969, dated June 9 2004, Class 41 for SAHAJ MARG and Indian Trademark registration 1288970 dated June 9 2004, Class 42 for SAHAJ MARG.

US registered trademark No 2,083,332, dated July 29, 1997 in class 41 for SAHAJ MARG.

US registered trademark No 2,373,019, dated August 1, 2000 in class 16 for SAHAJ MARG and US trademark No 2,413,888, dated December 19, 2000 in class 41 for SAHAJ MARG.

Other countries where the Complainant owns registered trademarks for SAHAJ MARG are: Australian trademark number 795206, dated September 7, 2001; in class 41, BENELUX Trademark registration number 0683055 dated May 31 2000; Republic of Mauritius Trademark registration number 07632/ 2009, dated June 25 2008 under classes 16, 41 and 42; and New Zealand trademark registration number 307594, dated April 8, 1999 in class 41. The Complainant has registered and owns several domain names containing the term ”Sahaj Marg” and its variants under different generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

The disputed domain name <sahajmargsystem.com> was created on July 25, 2008.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant states that its founder Mahatma Shri Ram Chanrdaji Maharaj of Fatehnagar U.P conceived the Sahaj Marg system of meditation and adopted the mark SAHAJ MARG in 1945. The Complainant explains that followers of the Sahaj Marg system of meditation aspire to attain human perfection with the ultimate goal of achieving oneness with God. It is derived from the ancient system of Raja Yoga. Shri Ram Chanrdaji Maharaj of Fatehnagar’s disciple, whose name was also Shri Ram Chandraji Maharaj but of Sahajahanpur, further modified the Sahaj Marg system for the needs of family life (grihasta). In the Sahaj Marg system of meditation, a spiritual master imparts spiritual training through Pranahuti or divine energy. The aim of Sahaj Marg meditation is to transform man from an animalistic state to a loving human being and then into a divinized being by cleansing the heart.

The Complainant claims that its mission is registered with the United Nations Department of Public Information as a Non Governmental Organization and that it has about one thousand Indian centers and one hundred and two foreign centers. The number of its registered members the Complainant states is about one hundred and fifty thousand, of which about three thousand fourteen are preceptors or teachers. Spiritual training is imparted irrespective of caste creed, color or race. Its members practice meditation at home and attend group meditation or “Satsang” every Sunday in local ashrams and meditation halls. The Complainant states that it has about two hundred ashrams in India and thirteen foreign ashrams.

The Complainant has submitted documents to show extensive use of its mark SAHAJ MARG and argues that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its mark despite the generic word “system”. The Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as the Complainant has not licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its mark and the Respondent is not known by the domain name. The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith and it prevents the Complainant, the owner of the mark from using a corresponding domain name. The Respondent uses the Complainant’s literature and publications without authorization on its website. The Respondent’s website diverts the web traffic intended for Complainant, which disrupts the Complainant’s business. Finally, the Complainant argues that the Respondent’s use of a privacy service also shows bad faith and the Complainant requests for the transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

To obtain the remedy of transfer of the disputed domain name, the Policy states that the Complainant has to establish three elements under paragraph 4(a).

(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith by the Respondent.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights.

The Complainant has flied documents that show its ownership of valid and subsisting registered trademarks in numerous jurisdictions under different classes. In particular the Complainant has filed documents of its Indian trademark registrations for the mark SAHAJ MARG under classes 9, 16, 41 and 42. The Complainant has also filed documents of its trademark registrations for its mark SAHAJ MARG in other countries such as, Australia, United States, New Zealand, the Benelux countries, and the Republic of Mauritius.

A trademark registration certificate is recognized as prima facie evidence of the validity of a mark See American Automobile Association Inc. v. Windshield shop c/o Janell Koester, WIPO Case No. D2010-2029. In the present case where the Complainant has submitted numerous trademark registration certificates from several jurisdictions, the Panel finds there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the Complainant’s rights in the mark SAHAJ MARG. The Complainant has further reinforced its case by submitting evidence of the use of its marks in India and other jurisdictions. Such evidence includes audio and video clips of speeches and published material that shows the use of its mark.

It is recognized that spiritual organizations and spiritual personalities may have trademark rights for goods and services that they offer. See Chinmoy Kumar Ghose v. Maria Sliva, WIPO Case No. D2003-0248 <gurusrichinmoy.com>, <aboutgurusrichinmoy.com>. (Where the complainant was found to have common law trademark for rendering services such as meditation and for the sale of books, literature and published material on related subjects, sold under the mark). The Panel finds from the material on record that the Complainant in the present dispute renders services of imparting spiritual teachings. The Complainant also sells literature and books under the mark SAHAJ MARG and has been doing these activities for a number of years. The Panel therefore finds the Complainant has successfully established that it has rights in the mark SAHAJ MARG.

The Panel finds the Complainant’s mark SAHAJ MARG has been incorporated in its entirety in the disputed domain name. It is a well recognized that if a domain name incorporates a trademark in its entirety, it is generally found to be confusingly similar to the trademark. See for instance American Automobile Association Inc. v. Windshield shop c/o Janell Koester, Supra. The Panel finds the disputed domain name in the present case is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark as it has incorporated the Complainant’s entire mark SAHAJ MARG. The generic word “system” appended to the mark, in the Panel’s view does not interfere with the confusing similarity with the mark, as the mark is the dominant part of the disputed domain name. Where the trademark is the key element of the domain name, the addition of other generic words or terms does not affect the finding of confusing similarity. See LEGO Juris A/S v. Nathan Joseph, WIPO Case No. D2011-1382 <legobuild.com> (the generic word “build” with the trademark LEGO in the domain name was found confusingly similar to the LEGO mark).

For the reasons discussed the Panel finds the disputed domain name is found confusingly similar to the mark in which the Complainant has rights. The Complainant has satisfied the first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The second element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to make a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances by which the Respondent can demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent can establish under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy that:

(i) The Respondent has used or made demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services;

(ii) The Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name;

(iii) The Respondent is making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademark of the Complainants.

The Respondent did not file a response in these proceedings and the Panel finds from the material on record that there is no indication that the Respondent is known by the disputed domain name or that the Respondent is making legitimate noncommercial fair use of the disputed domain name, or that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The unchallenged submissions of the Complainant are that the Respondent has not been authorized or licensed to use its mark. The Complainant has further contended that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because the Respondent is misleadingly diverting Internet users to believe that there is a connection with the Complainant by the use of the mark and unauthorized use of its published material.

In the Panel’s view, the use of the Complainant’s mark in the disputed domain name is likely to mislead the public and Internet users that the disputed domain name refers to the Complainant. A domain name that gives a false impression to users and misleads Internet users does not confer rights or legitimates. This view has been upheld in several prior UDRP decisions; see for instance, Pfizer Inc. v. Schreiner / Schreiner & Co., WIPO Case No. D2004-0731.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has provided sufficient material to make a prima facie case that the Respondent in the present case lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has failed to assert any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and has therefore not rebutted the Complainant’s prima facie case in this regard.

For the reasons discussed the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as required under the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The third element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant has submitted that its mark SAHAJ MARG has been used extensively for a number of years and has attained goodwill and acclaim nationally and internationally. The Respondent therefore ought to have knowledge of the mark and would have registered the disputed domain with the Complainant’s mark in mind, argues the Complainant.

The Panel finds the Complainant has established in these proceedings that it has rights in the mark and the Respondent has registered the domain name long after the Complainant has established its rights in the mark. Given the prior use of the trademark by the Complainant, in the Panel’s view, the use of the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain name gives rise to the inference that the Respondent ought to have registered the disputed domain name for it’s confusingly similarity to the Complainant’s mark. Another reasonable inference that can be drawn from the Respondent having used the disputed domain name in connection with spiritual purposes is that the Respondent seeks to generate Internet traffic based on the goodwill associated with the Complainant’s mark.

The Panel finds the circumstances and evidence presented in the case indicate that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name with the intention of attracting Internet users to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, which is recognized as bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it will be a fair to conclude that the Respondent has intentionally tried to take advantage of the reputation associated with the Complainant’s mark and has registered the disputed domain name for the purpose of attracting Internet users to his website by creating a like hood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, and affiliation of the website, which is evidence of bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. See Phillip Morris Inc. v. Alex Tsypkin, WIPO Case No. D2002-0946. Bad faith in found in the deliberate and misleading use of another’s trademark for the purpose of diverting Internet users looking for sites associated with the owner of that trademark to the Respondent’s website. L’Oreal Biotherm, Lancome Perfumes’ et Beaute & Cie v. Unasi Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-0623 (Diversion of Internet users is a common example of bad faith referred to under paragraph 4(b)(iv)).

The Complainant has also asserted that the Respondent has tried to register domain name to prevent the Complainant from using the mark in a corresponding domain name. Further, the Respondent has tried to divert the followers of the Complainant by reproducing the Complainant’s work without permission, and tried to create confusion in the minds of the Complainant’s followers by using material belonging of the Complainant, including posting the photographs of its founders and has thereby created a likelihood of confusion as to the source. The Panel finds that there is sufficient material to find that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith and has used it in bad faith. The circumstances described in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy are no more than examples of bad faith registration and use and do not limit finding circumstances other than those described at paragraph 4(b) that amount to bad faith registration and use. See Fox News Network, L.LC v. Kenneth A. Young, WIPO Case No. D2003-0407.

The Complainant has also argued that the use of privacy protect services to hide the identity of the Respondent is yet another indicator of the Respondent’s bad faith. The use of a privacy service can be for legitimate reasons, and not all use of privacy protect services necessarily imply bad faith. However, given the circumstances in the present case, where the Respondent has been found to have no rights in the name and has used the Complainant’s mark without authorization, the Panel draws adverse inference from the use of the privacy protection. The Panel finds for the reasons discussed, the facts and circumstances in the present case shows the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith and used in bad faith.

The Panel concludes that the Complainant has successfully established the third element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <sahajmargsystem.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Harini Narayanswamy
Sole Panelist
Dated: November 25, 2011

 

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