WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc v. Domain Whois Protection Service / zhu jinxiong
Case No. D2012-2094
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland represented by Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services, Sweden.
The Respondent is Domain Whois Protection Service of Nanjing, Jiangsu, China; zhu jinxiong of Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <rbsgj.com> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Jiangsu Bangning Science & technology Co. Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 22, 2012. On October 22, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On October 24, 2012, the Registrar 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 October 25, 2012 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 October 31, 2012.
On October 25, 2012, the Center transmitted an email to the parties in both the Chinese and English language regarding the language of the proceeding. On October 25, 2012, the Complainant confirmed its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not submit its comments.
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 the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified in both English and Chinese the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 1, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 21, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 22, 2012.
The Center appointed Kar Liang Soh as the sole panelist in this matter on December 6, 2012. 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 was founded in 1727. The Complainant is one of the oldest banks in the United Kingdom and became a public listed company in 1968. The Complainant offers financial services worldwide under the trademark RBS which is registered in various jurisdictions, including:
November 23, 1994
November 2, 2004
December 10, 2004
November 16, 2004
The Complainant also operated websites under various domain names including <rbs.com> and <rbsgroup.com>, which were registered in 1994 and 1995 respectively.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on April 24, 2012. On or before the Complaint, the Disputed Domain Name resolved to a website which prominently displayed the trademark RBS and included a write up incorporating the following paragraph:
“… RBS, is the largest global financial and investment services organizations, we are based in the UK the most stringent financial supervision, to accept FSA (UK Financial Supervisory Authority) of the regulation, …” (sic)
The WhoIs information regarding the Disputed Domain Name identified “Domain WhoIs Protection Service” as the Respondent. The Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to them on August 20, 2012 requesting the transfer of the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant did not receive a response to the cease and desist letter.
After the Complaint was filed, the Registrar disclosed the Respondent as zhu jinxiong, an individual. No further information regarding the Respondent beyond the particulars disclosed by the Registrar is available.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that:
a) The Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark RBS. The addition of the suffix “gj” does not have any impact on the overall impression of the dominant part of the Disputed Domain Name, RBS;
b) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name. The Respondent has not been found to hold any registered trademarks or trade names corresponding to the Disputed Domain Name. The Respondent has not been using RBS in any way which would give them any legitimate interests or rights in the name. No license or authorization has been given by the Complainant to the Respondent to use the trademark RBS. The Respondent has never had a business relationship with the Complainant. There is no disclaimer on the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name denying any relationship to the Complainant; and
c) The Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The trademark RBS is well-known. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter. The Disputed Domain Name was used by the Respondent in a phishing scam to deceive the Complainant’s customers and manipulate them into divulging sensitive financial information. By using the Disputed Domain Name for fraudulent purposes, the Respondent is committing a criminal offence and misleadingly diverting consumers for its own commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1 Language of Proceeding
Although the default language of the proceeding is Chinese (in view of the fact that the Disputed Domain Name registration agreement is in Chinese), the Panel may determine otherwise pursuant to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules. Having regard to the specific circumstances of this case, the Panel holds that English be adopted as the language of the proceeding. In holding so, the Panel took into account the following circumstances:
a) The Complainant is based in the United Kingdom, where Chinese is not an official language. Although the Complainant did not indicate that it is not able to undertake the proceeding in Chinese, the Complainant has indicated that it would be cumbersome and disadvantageous to the Complainant should Chinese be adopted as the language of the proceeding;
b) The Complaint has already been submitted in English;
c) The website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name includes both English and Chinese versions. Although the quality of English on the website is not perfect, the language is readable and understandable. The Respondent is evidently capable to handling communication in English.
d) The Respondent has chosen not to participate in the proceeding by not replying to the Complaint and to the language of the proceeding notification;
e) There will likely be delay and additional cost to be borne by the Complainant should translation of the Complainant into Chinese be required.
To succeed in this proceeding, the Complainant must show all of the following limbs of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:
a) The Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights;
b) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name; and
c) The Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the trademark RBS in its entirety. The only difference between the Disputed Domain Name and the trademark RBS is the addition of the suffix “gj”. Nowhere in the evidence is there a suggestion of what “gj” represents and it is not apparent to the Panel what “gj” means. Based on a review of the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name, it is possible that “rbsgj” may refer to “RBS Group Jiangsu”. Be that as it may, it is obvious that the unpronounceable string of characters “rbsgj” may only be read by enunciating each letter separately. As such, the letters “r”, “b” and “s” will be read sequentially and clearly as a reference to the trademark RBS.
The Panel accepts that the additional letters “gj”, whatever they may actually mean, do not take away the clear reference to the trademark RBS and are unlikely to be able to distinguish the Disputed Domain Name from the trademark RBS. Therefore, the Panel holds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark RBS. The first limb of paragraph 4(a) is established on the facts.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has confirmed that it has never had a relationship with the Respondent. There is no evidence that the Respondent is authorized to use the trademark RBS. Yet, the trademark RBS is used prominently on the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent appears to be an individual and there is no evidence to indicate that the Respondent is known by the letters “rbsgj”. The manner in which the trademark RBS is used on the website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name does not appear to accord with a legitimate noncommercial use.
In the circumstances, the Panel is of the view that the Complainant has established a prima facie case on the evidence that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name. Since no Response was filed, the prima facie case is not rebutted.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states:
“by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site 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 your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location”.
It is inconceivable that the Respondent was not aware of the trademark RBS at the time of registering the Disputed Domain Name. The website resolved from the Disputed Domain Name clearly associated itself with the Complainant, the Complainant’s services and the trademark RBS. There is undoubtedly a likelihood of confusion by the website with the trademark RBS as to source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website and its contents.
The website provided links which appeared to relate to the opening of a trading account and to operate funds, obviously with an objective for commercial gain and competing with the Complainant’s services. What is more disconcerting is the use of the website for phishing data from bank customers which may be directed to the website on the misapprehension that it is related to the Complainant.
The Panel notes that the website provides a form for collecting data from a visitor. Although the image capture of the form is not sufficiently clear for the Panel to make out the type of data collected based on the evidence submitted, this Panel is satisfied that the Complainant’s allegations of phishing are unequivocal. Also this Panel is of the view that a reasonable person in the Respondent’s shoes who is wrongfully accused would in all likelihood strenuously deny such allegations. The Respondent has chosen instead to remain silent. The circumstances are such that the Panel is unable to envisage a situation where use of the Disputed Domain Name which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark for phishing purposes could be other than bad faith use.
Accordingly, the Panel holds that bad faith registration and use is established.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Name, <rbsgj.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Kar Liang Soh
Date: December 31, 2012