WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Aldermore Bank PLC v. mikey emil, Nader Ramses, Tarek Farouki

Case No. D2013-1076

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Aldermore Bank PLC of Lynch Wood, Peterborough, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”), represented by Addleshaw Goddard, United Kingdom.

The Respondents are mikey emil (the First Respondent), Nader Ramses (the Second Respondent) and Tarek Farouki (the Third Respondent) of Egypt.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The disputed domain name <aldermoreinternational.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC. The disputed domain name <aldermoreinvestments.com > is registered with Click Registrar, Inc. d/b/a publicdomainregistry.com. Both disputed domain names shall be referred to as the “Domain Names” hereinafter.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 13, 2013. On June 14, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, LLC and Click Registrar, Inc. d/b/a publicdomainregistry.com (the “Registrars”) a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On June 14 and 17, 2013, the Registrar GoDaddy.com, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification responses confirming that the Respondent “mikey emil” is listed as the registrant for the disputed domain name <aldermoreinternational.com> and providing the contact details. On June 15 and 18, 2013, the Registrar Click Registrar, Inc. d/b/a publicdomainregistry.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification responses confirming that the Respondent “Nader Ramses” is listed as the registrant for the disputed domain name <aldermoreinvestments.com> and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 21, 2013 requesting the consolidation of the Respondents.

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 Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 24, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 14, 2013.

On June 27, 2013, the Center received an email communication from “Nader Ramses” where “Nader Ramses” appeared to be willing to transfer the Domain Names to the Complainant. On the same day, the Center acknowledged receipt of this email communication and requested the Complainant to confirm if it was willing to settle the dispute with the Respondents. On July 2, 2013, the Complainant requested the Center to continue with the current proceedings.

On July 15, 2013, the Center informed the parties that it did not receive any formal Response and shall proceed with the panel appointment process. On July 15, 2013, the Center received an email communication from “mikey emil”. The Center acknowledged receipt of this email communication on July 19, 2013 indicating the aforementioned email communication would be forwarded to the panel for its consideration.

The Center appointed Nicholas Smith as the sole panelist in this matter on July 22, 2013. 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 United Kingdom based bank which launched in 2009. It currently has approximately GBP 2.5 billion in assets. It provides banking services to the public, both from bricks and mortar locations and from its website at “www.aldermore.co.uk”.

The Complainant has held a trade mark registration for the word mark ALDERMORE (the “ALDERMORE Mark”) since at least August 14, 2009. It currently holds a registration for the ALDERMORE Mark in the United Kingdom in classes 9, 16, 35, 36 38 and 41 and holds a registration for the ALDERMORE Mark in the European Union since October 26, 2009.

The Domain Name <aldermoreinternational.com> was created on February 14, 2013. It is currently inactive, however prior to the commencement of this proceeding revolved to an Internet site (“Respondents’ First Website”) that purported to offer banking and finance services. The Domain Name <aldermoreinvestments.com> was created on September 5, 2012. It is currently inactive, however prior to the commencement of this proceeding revolved to an Internet site (“Respondents’ Second Website”) that purported to offer banking and finance services. The Respondents’ First Website and Respondents’ Second Website (collectively “Respondents’ Websites”) are essentially identical to one another, and they reproduce several elements of the Complainant’s website, including the Complainant’s logo, use of tabs, color and overall layout.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant makes the following contentions:

(i) that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ALDERMORE Mark;

(ii) that the Respondents have no rights nor any legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names;
and

(iii) that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.

The Complainant is the owner of the ALDERMORE Mark. It owns United Kingdom and Community trade mark for ALDERMORE, since at least August 14, 2009 and October 26, 2009 respectively.

The Domain Names consist of the ALDERMORE Mark and the connecting words “investments” and “international”. The use of the connecting words would lead Internet users to believe that the Domain Names are associated with, sponsored by, endorsed by or affiliated with the Complainant, particularly given the nature of the Complainant’s business, being financial services.

There are no rights or legitimate interests held by the Respondents in respect of the Domain Names. The Respondents are not commonly known as the Domain Names, nor do the Respondents have any authorization from the Complainant to register the Domain Names. There is no evidence, whether before or after notice to the Respondents of the dispute, of the Respondents’ use of, or demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Names for a bona fide offering of goods and services nor have they made a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Names.

The Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Respondents are using the Domain Names to pass themselves off as the Complainant and to infringe the Complainant’s rights in the ALDERMORE Mark. Furthermore, the Third Respondent, purporting to act on behalf of the other Respondents, has offered to transfer the Domain Names for valuable consideration in excess of out-of-pocket expenses. This conduct amounts to registration and use of the Domain Names in bad faith.

B. Respondent

There was no formal Response filed in these proceedings. On June 27, 2013, the Center received an email communication from the Second Respondent which included the statement:

“all what happened is one of my friend asked me to register a domain with that name and we search it on go daddy and we found free, i called a hosting company in cairo, Egypt to check with them and i gave them my info (name, mail and phone number), please let me know how to fix this case as i'm not a part of it and the domain is not belong to me anymore”

On July 15, 2013, the Center received an email communication from the First Respondent, which included the statement:

“i am maikel emil i work as re seller and have many domain so the customer want me to buy this domain and i bought it

so i don’t know that this site with for another domain and godaddy cancel domain”.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identity of the Respondents

While each of the Domain Names is registered to a different entity (the First and Second Respondents), the Domain Names both redirect to essentially identical Websites. Furthermore, prior to the commencement of the proceeding all correspondence in relation to the Domain Names was between the Complainant and the Third Respondent, who represented that he was the entity behind both the Domain Names and that, if an adequate offer was made, he could arrange the transfer of the Domain Names. While both the First and Second Respondents deny connection to the Domain Names, the fact is that they are the named registrants of each of the Domain Names and it is proper that they remain Respondents in this proceeding. The Panel finds that there are sufficient elements of commonality between the Respondents and the Domain Names to make it appropriate that both Domain Names be included in these proceedings and that all three Respondents be named Respondents. The Panel will render a single decision against the Respondents in respect of both the Domain Names.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

To prove this element the Complainant must have trade or service mark rights and the Domain Names must be identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade or service mark.

The Complainant is the owner of the ALDERMORE Mark, having registrations for ALDERMORE as a trade mark in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The Domain Names consist of the ALDERMORE Mark and the suffixes “investments” and “international”. The addition of generic words such as “investments” and “international” to a recognized trade mark does not operate to prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the ALDERMORE Mark and the Domain Names. An individual viewing the Domain Names may be confused into thinking that the Domain Names would refer to a site run by the Complainant, offering its services to an international market, or a market of people wishing to invest with the Complainant. The Panel finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ALDERMORE Mark. Consequently, the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

To succeed on this element, a complainant must make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If such a prima facie case is made out, then the burden of production shifts to the respondent to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:

“Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):

(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use 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) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you are making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.” (Policy, paragraph 4(c))

The Respondents are not affiliated with the Complainant in any way. None of them have been authorized by the Complainant to register or use the Domain Names or to seek the registration of any domain name incorporating the ALDERMORE Mark or a mark similar to the ALDERMORE Mark. There is no evidence that the Respondents are commonly known by the Domain Names or any similar name. There is no evidence that the Respondents have used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or for a legitimate noncommercial use. Rather it appears that the Respondents are using the Domain Names to operate a website that, without the permission of the Complainant:

(a) reproduces the branding and look and feel of the Complainant’s website, potentially indicating that it is in some way connected with the Complainant or offers its services; and

(b) appears to offer banking services in direct competition with the Complainant’s services, from which the Respondents are likely to receive some revenue or potentially to capture the log-in and password details of consumers of the Complainant who are confused by the ownership of the website.

Such use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondents lack rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. The Respondents have had an opportunity to rebut the presumption that they lack rights or legitimate interests. Neither of the communications from the First and Second Respondents have provided any evidence of rights or legitimate interests, rather the First and Second Respondents deny any connection with the Domain Names and suggest that the Domain Names should be cancelled. The Panel finds that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondents have registered or have acquired the Domain Names primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Names’ registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trade mark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of their documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Names; or

(ii) The Respondents have registered the Domain Names 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 Respondents have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) The Respondents have registered the Domain Names primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the Domain Names, the Respondents have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to their 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 Respondents’ Websites or location or of a product or service on the Respondents’ Websites or location. (Policy, paragraph 4(b))

The Panel finds that it is likely that the Respondents were aware of the Complainant and its reputation in the ALDERMORE Mark at the time the Domain Names were registered. The Respondents’ Websites offer services in the banking industry and have such similarity with the look and feel of the Complainant’s websites that it must have been copied from the Complainant. In an email from the Third Respondent to the Complainant the Third Respondent admits that “my website design is inspired from and imitate Aldermore.co.uk web design. What I meant by design is the LOGO, the website content and the website structure”. This imitation could not have been done without knowledge of the Complainant and its rights in the ALDERMORE Mark. The registration of the Domain Names in awareness of the Complainant’s mark and in the absence of rights or legitimate interests amounts to registration in bad faith.

The Panel finds that the Respondents are using the Domain Names to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of its website. The Respondents’ Websites appear to have been designed in order to confuse Internet users into thinking that they are connected to the Complainant. Such conduct is typically part of a broader phishing campaign, to deceive the Complainant’s customers and manipulate them into divulging sensitive financial information. This means that the Respondents likely receive a financial reward from Internet users who visit the Respondents’ Websites under the impression (created by the Domain Names and the content of the Respondents’ Websites) that they are somehow connected to the Complainant. The Panel finds that such use amounts to use in bad faith.

The Panel is not persuaded by the assertion in the correspondence from the Third Respondent that the Domain Names were part of a broader business with broking and consulting services. The Respondents have had the opportunity to put on evidence of the existence of such a business and they have chosen not to do so.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondents have registered and are using the Domain Names in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 Names, <aldermoreinternational.com> and <aldermoreinvestments.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Nicholas Smith
Sole Panelist
Date: July 30, 2013