WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Bharti Airtel Limited v. Jehantas
Case No. D2015-0248
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Bharti Airtel Limited of New Delhi, India, represented by Vutts & Associates LLP, India.
The Respondent is Jehantas of Nyeri South, Kenya.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <airtel.org> (the "Domain Name") is registered with Dynadot, LLC (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on February 17, 2015. On February 17, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On February 17, 2015 the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 24, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 16, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 17, 2015.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on April 2, 2015. 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 leading global telecommunications company with operations in over 20 countries across Asia and Africa including India and Kenya. It also has mobile operations in the Channel Islands. The Complainant ranks amongst the top four mobile service providers globally and had over 300 million customers as of December 2013. The Complainant started its operations in 1995 and has operated under the mark AIRTEL since that date. It spends millions of dollars each year promoting and advertising the AIRTEL mark around the world. It is a regular sponsor of cricket matches in India watched by over 1 billion people and is an official sponsor for Formula 1 racing.
The Complainant is the proprietor of numerous registered trademarks comprising the mark AIRTEL around the world including India trademark number 766272 AIRTEL registered on July 21, 1997, Community trademark number 257683 Airtel and device registered as of May 6, 1996 and United States trademark number 3625337 Airtel and device filed on December 26, 2007.
The Domain Name was registered on July 16, 2005. At the date the Complaint was filed, it resolved to a SEDO Domain Parking page comprising links to a number of third-party websites including those of competitors of the Complainant and a link advertising that "this website is for sale".
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to its AIRTEL trademark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4 (b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the 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 in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has undoubted, uncontested rights in the trademark AIRTEL both by virtue of its numerous trademark registrations around the world and as acquired through widespread use for over 30 years. The Domain Name comprises the AIRTEL mark together only with the generic Top-Level Domain ("gTLD") suffix ".org". As is widely accepted, the gTLD suffix may be ignored for present purposes. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical to a mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint and has done nothing to dispel the strong prima facie case raised by the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is in little doubt that the Respondent must have had the Complainant and its rights in the AIRTEL mark in mind when it registered the Domain Name in light of the fact that AIRTEL is a made up word and the Complainant and its activities under the AIRTEL mark are well known in Kenya where the Respondent is located. Furthermore, the Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate reason for the Respondent registering the Domain Name or of any legitimate purpose to which the Respondent could put the Domain Name. The Respondent has registered a well-known mark and used it for a domain name resolving to a SEDO Domain Parking page with links to third party websites and including an offer to sell the Domain Name. In the Panel's view, this amounts to bad faith registration and use in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
To the extent that such use could be said to be passive use of the Domain Name, passive holding is no bar to a finding of bad faith on the part of the Respondent. In accordance with the consensus view of the UDRP panels, the factors indicated and the absence of any Response on the part of the Respondent, all support a finding of bad faith use (see Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; Jupiters Limited v. Aaron Hall, WIPO Case No. D2000-0574; Ladbroke Group Plc v. Sonoma International LDC, WIPO Case No. D2002-0131).
In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used 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 Domain Name <airtel.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 16, 2015