WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Akbank v. Dr. Mehmet Kahveci

Case No. D2001-1488

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is Akbank Turk A.S., a bank organized and existing under the laws of Turkey, with its principal place of business located at Sabanci Center 80745, Istanbul, Turkey.

The Respondent is Dr. Mehmet Kahveci, 177B State Street, McKinley Building, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

 

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name is <akbank.com>.

The Registrar of the domain name is Network Solutions Inc., 505 Huntmar Park Drive, Herndon, Virginia, U.S.A.

 

3. Procedural History

Issuance of Complaint

3.1 On December 24, 2001, Complainant submitted a Complaint to the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center ("Center") pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP") implemented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") on October 24, 1999, and under the rules for the UDRP implemented by ICANN on the same date ("UDRP Rules"). The Complaint and exhibits were received by the Center via e-mail on December 24, 2001, and in hardcopy on December 28, 2001. The Center acknowledged receipt of the Complaint on December 28, 2001.

Confirmation of registration details

3.2 On January 7, 2002, a Request for Registrar Verification was transmitted to Network Solutions, Inc. In an e-mail to the Center dated January 11, 2002, Network Solutions confirmed that it is the Registrar of the domain name <akbank.com>.

Notification of Respondent

3.3 Having verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the UDRP and the UDRP Rules, the Center sent on January 15, 2002, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding to the Complainantís authorized representative by e-mail; to the Respondent by post, facsimile and e-mail (two addresses). The Center advised the Respondent that the Response was due no later than February 4, 2002.

The transmission by facsimile and to the e-mail address gr8care@aol.com failed. The other two methods of communication were successful.

Filing of Response

3.4 No Response was filed by the Respondent within the time specified in the Notification of Complaint. A Notification of Respondent Default was sent by the WIPO Center to the Respondent, and copied to the Complainant, by e-mail and courier on February 7, 2002. As of the date of this decision, no Response had been filed by the Respondent.

Constitution of Administrative Panel

3.5 Having received no Response from the Respondent within the specified time in the Notification of Complaint, the WIPO Center proceeded to appoint a single-member Panel and invited Dr. Torsten Bettinger to serve as a Panelist in this Administrative Proceeding.

Having received the Panelistís Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, the Center issued a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel on February 20, 2002, and set a decision date, with the Panelistís deadline for issuing a decision of March 6, 2002. The Center transmitted the case file to the Panelist on February 20, 2002.

 

4. Factual Background

The Complaint asserted, and provided evidence in support of the following facts:

The Complainant is well-known as "AKBANK" and is now the largest bank in Turkey in terms of assets. The Complainant has been ranked by the Banker Magazine in 2000 among the top 500 banks in the world in terms of asset size and shareholders' equity. In addition, it was awarded 'Best Bank in Turkey' by Euromoney Magazine in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 2001(Annex 3). The Complainant operates through its Head Office in Istanbul and in 13 regional offices throughout Turkey and offices in other countries of the world.

The Complainant has provided documentary evidence of the following trademark registration registered with the Turkish Patent Office;

Registration No:

Service Marks:

Intl. Classes

Registration Dates:

180391

AKBANK

36

24.06.1996

181151

AK (Device mark)

36

24.06.1996

180358

AK

36

24.06.1996

The Complainant has also the following international registrations registered under the Madrid Protocol:

Int. Registration No:

Service Marks:

Intl. Classes

Registration Dates:

750014

AKBANK

36

19.10.2000

750065

AK

36

19.10.2000


The Respondent is the registrant of the domain name <akbank.com>. The domain was registered on September 12, 1999.

According to Network Solutionís WHOIS database, the Respondent is Dr. Mehmet Kahveci, 177B State Street McKinley Building, Boston, MA 02109 U.S.A.

The Respondent has no license or any other permission to use the name "AKBANK".

At present the domain name <akbank.com> does not resolve to a website or other on-line presence.

 

5. Partiesí Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that (1) The domain name <akbank.com> is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark "AKBANK" in which the Complainant has exclusive rights; that (2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name; that (3) the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant states that the Respondent has Turkish nationality and is a very famous "domain name collector" in the Turkish Internet world who owns dozens of domain name registrations almost all of which were identical to various well-known Turkish companiesí such as

"<uki.com>, <yapi.com>, <akpa.com>, <cebitas.com>, <cukurova.com>, <showtv.com>, <denizcilik.com>, <iktisat.com>, <vakif.com>, <turyat.com>, <cankurtaran.com>, <profilo.com>, <tekel.com>, <santeks.com>, <bilkont.com>, <tarmak.com>, <orsa.com>, <ulusoy.com>, <ziraat.com>, <transturk.com>, <yasar.com>, <tupras.com>, <ulker.com>"

The Complainant requests that the Administrative Panel issue a decision that the domain name <akbank.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not file a Response to the Complaint.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a), the Complainant must prove that each of the following three elements are present if it is to prevail:

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

(ii) The Respondent has "no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name;" and

(iii) The "domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith."

a. Identical or confusingly similar (paragraph 4(a)(i))

The Respondent has registered the domain name <akbank.com>. This domain name is identical to Complainantís trademark "AKBANK", except that the domain name adds the generic top-level-domain ".com".

It is well established that the specific top level of the domain name such as ".org", ".net" or ".com" does not affect the domain name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar (See for examples WIPO Case Nos. D2000-0135, D2000-0429 and D2000-1400). The addition of the generic top-level-domain (gTLD) ".com" is without legal significance in determining similarity.

The Panel therefore concludes that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has prior exclusive rights.

b. Rights or legitimate interests (paragraph 4(a)(ii))

The Respondent has not provided evidence of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or any other circumstances giving rise to a right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name. The Complainant showed that the Respondent has neither a license nor any other permission to use the name in dispute. In the absence of evidence brought forward by the Respondent the Panel cannot find a legitimate interest.

The Panel therefore concludes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name <akbank.com> and that the requirement of the UDRP Paragraph 4 (a) (ii) is satisfied.

c. Bad faith (paragraph 4 (a) (iii))

The fact that the Respondent has chosen not to submit a Response is particularly relevant to the issue of whether the Respondent has registered and is using the domain name in bad faith. Rule 14(b) of the Uniform Rules provides that, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, a Panel shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the failure of a party to comply with a provision or requirement of the Uniform Rules. This Administrative Panel finds there is no exceptional circumstances for the failure of the Respondent to submit a Response. This Administrative Panel draws from this failure the following two inferences: (i) the Respondent does not deny the facts which the Complainant asserts, and (ii) the Respondent does not deny the conclusions which the Complainant asserts can be drawn from these facts.

Nevertheless, this Administrative Panel still has the responsibility of determining which of the Complainantís assertions are established as facts, and whether the conclusions asserted by the Complainant can be drawn from the established facts (see WIPO Case No. D2000-0438, Inter-IKEA Systems B.V. v. Hoon Huh).

The Complainant provided evidence of facts, which are clearly relevant to the issue of whether the Respondent registered and is using the domain name in bad faith.

Rule 4 (b) of the Policy specifies the circumstances that evidence registration in bad faith and provides that this can be asserted, if the domain was registered or acquired primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration (Rule 4 (b) (i)) to the Complainant or to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its trademark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the owner of the domain name has engaged in a pattern of such conduct (Rule 4 (b) (ii)).

aa) The Panel has no doubt that these prerequisites for cancellation or transfer of the domain name are fulfilled.

The Complainantís trademark is long established and widely known. In the absence of evidence or even an assertion by the Respondent to the contrary the Panel accepts as fact that the Respondent registered dozens of domain names that are identical to various well-known Turkish companiesí names and registered the domain name <akbank.com> knowing that it was the trademark of the Complainant.

When this pattern of conduct and knowledge is combined with the fact that the Respondent has not right or legitimate interest in the domain name there is ground on which the Panel can conclude that that the objective was to sell the domain name to the Complainant for a valuable consideration well in excess of the Respondentís out-of-pocket expenses or in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its trademark "AKBANK" in a corresponding domain name.

bb) The fact that the domain is inactive does not prevent from this assertion. On the contrary, inaction itself can constitute "use in bad faith", where the Domain Name comprises a name which can only sensibly refer to the Complainant or where there is no obvious possible justification for the selection of the Domain Name (see WIPO Cases No. D2000-1074 and D2000-0003).

cc) The Panel therefore concludes that Respondent registered and is using the domain name <akbank.com> in bad faith and that the requirement of the UDRP Paragraph 4 (a) (iii) is satisfied.

 

7. Decision

The Panel thus decides that:

1) the domain name <akbank.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights;

2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest with respect to the domain name <akbank.com>;

3) the domain name <akbank.com> has been registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent.

Pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Policy and pursuant to paragraph 15 of the Rules, the Panel requires that the Registrar, Network Solutions Inc., transfer the domain name <akbank.com> to the Complainant.

 


 

Dr. Torsten Bettinger
Sole Panelist

Dated: March 6, 2002