WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Al Jazeera Media Network v. mishal m, q8webmaster / Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID: 89314531430345, Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd
Case No. D2014-1719
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Al Jazeera Media Network of Doha, Qatar, internally represented.
The Respondent is mishal m, q8webmaster of Ardiyah, Kuwait; / Domain Hostmaster, Customer ID: 89314531430345, Whois Privacy Services Pty Ltd of Fortitude Valley, Queensland, Australia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <aljazerah.net> is registered with Fabulous.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 1, 2014. On October 2, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 3, 2014, 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 8, 2014 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 amended Complaint] on October 12, 2014.
The Center verified that 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 16, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 5, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 7, 2014.
The Center appointed Angela Fox as the sole panelist in this matter on November 21, 2014. 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 Qatari-based media corporation responsible for the well-known Arabic television news channel Al Jazeera. The Complainant began broadcasting the Al Jazeera channel in 1996 and has been doing so continuously ever since. It also operates an Arabic news website at “www.aljazeera.net”.
The Complainant obtained registered trademark protection for AL JAZEERA in 2006 and exhibited to the Complaint copies of trademark registrations for the word mark AL JAZEERA in Qatar in Classes 9, 16, 35, 38 and 41 under registration Nos. 37020, 37021, 37022, 37023 and 37024 dating from 2006. It also exhibited a copy of its United States trademark registration No. 3820209 for AL JAZEERA in Classes 9, 16, 35, 38 and 41, filed on January 5, 2009 and registered on July 20, 2010 registered on of trademark registrations for AL JAZEERA dating from 2006.
The disputed domain name was registered on June 24, 2002. Before the Complaint was filed it was in use to host content copied from the Complainant’s website at “www.aljazeera.net”, and to host links to several competitor Arabic news websites. Currently the domain name resolves to a screen that is blank except for the presence of three links described as “arabic news websites links” [sic].
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its registered AL JAZEERAH trademark, which is phonetically identical to “aljazerah”.
The Complainant also submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. In particular, the Complainant has not authorised or licensed the Respondent to use the disputed domain name. The Complainant submits that the Respondent has never used or made preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offer of goods or services, and merely uses it to post content copied from the Complainant’s own website at “www.aljazeera.net”. The Complainant says that it wrote to the Respondent on July 15, 2014 concerning the disputed domain name, but that the Respondent never responded to demonstrate any legitimate right or interest in the domain name.
Finally, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith. The Respondent registered a domain name that is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s AL JAZEERA trademark and then used it to host content directly copied from the Complainant’s own website, without permission from the Complainant. Moreover, the Respondent included in its website a banner linking to an external commercial advertising service website at “www.adsya.com”, and also posted links to alternative Arabic news websites, including Al Arabiya, Islam Way and Islam Web. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has done this in order to generate confusion and to benefit commercially from it, and states moreover that the Respondent’s links to other Arabic language television channels involve illegal use of third-party trademarks and copyright content that, due to the confusing similarity of the domain names, could expose the Complainant to the risk of being sued for copyright infringement. The Complainant submits that the Respondent must have been aware of the AL JAZEERA trademark at the time the disputed domain name was registered, not least since they are based in the same geographical part of the Middle East.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions and is in default. No exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward. Therefore, in accordance with paragraphs 14 (a) and (b) of the Rules, the Panel will decide the Complaint and shall draw such inferences as it considers appropriate from the Respondent’s default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant can only succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy if the panel finds that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
All three elements must be present before a complainant can succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has proved that it owns registered trademark rights in AL JAZEERA in Qatar and the United States of America.
The disputed domain name is <aljazerah.net>. Phonetically the element “aljazerah” is identical to AL JAZEERA, and there are also notable visual similarities particularly at the start of the disputed domain name, where they are most likely to be noted.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has not authorised the Respondent to use the disputed domain name, nor is there any evidence that the Respondent has ever been commonly known by the disputed domain name or has acquired any trademark rights in it.
Nor do the Respondent’s activities in connection with the disputed domain name give rise to any rights or legitimate interests in it. The Respondent’s use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark for a website unconnected with the Complainant but displaying content directly copied from the Complainant’s own website is inherently confusing and misleading, and appears intended to be so.
The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name, moreover, to link to websites of competing Arabic news stations and to a commercial advertising service website is also not, in the Panel’s view, a bona fide offering of goods or services (see inter alia Six Continents Hotels, Inc., v. EnterSports Inc., WIPO Case No. D2008-1951, in which the panel stated, “Respondent’s predatory use of the domain name as the address of a website that, at one time, advertised hotel services competing with the Complainant’s business does not constitute a bona fide use of the domain name”).
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant’s registered trademarks postdate the registration of the disputed domain name by some four years. Nonetheless, the facts of this case strongly suggest that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in the awareness of the Complainant’s Al Jazeera news channel, and that such awareness probably prompted the registration. In this respect, the panel notes that “[i]n certain situations, when the respondent is clearly aware of the complainant, and it is clear that the aim of the registration was to take advantage of the confusion between the domain name and any potential complainant rights, bad faith can be found”. See paragraph 3.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”).
Moreover, the disputed domain name was registered on June 24, 2002, by which time the AL JAZEERA trademark had become internationally known as denoting an Arabic news channel as a result of its extensive coverage of the war in Afghanistan from 2001. Therefore, it is highly implausible that the Respondent would not have been aware of the Complainant at the time the disputed domain name was registered.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s AL JAZEERA trademark and the fact that it has been used to display content directly copied from the Complainant’s website further indicates that it was registered and has been used with the intent to attract and mislead Internet users looking for the Complainant. The Respondent’s activities appear commercial in nature, including the presence of a link to a third-party commercial advertising services website and to the websites of competing Arabic news stations, from which the Respondent may be generating click-through income.
The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name to attract Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website and of the products and services promoted through it, in breach of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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, <aljazerah.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 5, 2014