WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Mr. Ashish Puravankara, Joint Managing Director of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited v. Ashish Puravankara
Case No. D2015-1173
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Mr. Ashish Puravankara, Joint Managing Director of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited of Bengaluru, India, represented by R. Sathish Kumar, India.
The Respondent is “Ashish Puravankara, Puravankara Inc.” of Bangalore, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 8, 2015. On July 8, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On July 8, 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 July 10, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 30, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 31, 2015.
The Center appointed Ashwinie Kumar Bansal as the sole panelist in this matter on August 7, 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 an individual who is currently the Joint Managing Director of a real estate company known as M/s Puravankara Projects Limited (the “Company”) incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956. Mr. Ravi Puravankara, father of the Complainant, is the founder and Chairman of the Company. The Company has the business of designing, developing, constructing and marketing residential and commercial projects, and has real estate projects in many cities in India as well as in Colombo and Dubai.
The disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> was registered on September 29, 2014.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Company has built its reputation as a leader in the real estate development business which has been recognized through various awards. It is the recipient of an ISO 9001 certification and has completed several residential and commercial projects.
The Company’s trademarks PURVA, PURAVANKARA and PURAVANKARA PROJECTS LIMITED are registered in Classes 19, 35, 36, 37 39 and 99. It has also registered several domain names incorporating its trademark PURVANKARA and it owns more than 150 domain names. The Company’s trademark is derived from surname of the Complainant’s family “Purvankara”. The Complainant and his family including his father Mr. Ravi Purvankara are frequently in the news and articles about them appear in many newspapers and magazines.
The Company’s website, “www.puravankara.com” was registered in the year 1997 and it has also won the website award in the Realty Plus Awards in the year 2014. It has spent several crores of rupees in promoting the well-known trademarks PURVA, PURAVANKARA and PURAVANKARA PROJECTS LIMITED. Its website “www.puravankara.com” and corporate name PURAVANKARA PROJECTS LIMITED have a constant presence on the Internet. There is a huge online interest among the potential buyers who search for its various projects and to do their due diligence searches on the Internet.
The Complainant is a well-known person in the real estate industry. He has won the Young Entrepreneur Award in the Realty Plus Awards 2014 and the news of his elevation to a Joint Managing Director from a Director of the Company received wide press coverage throughout the Indian media.
The Complainant further submited that the Respondent is in no way connected with his Company and has never been authorized or permitted to use his name or the Company’s trademarks or corporate name. The Complainant has noticed a serious instance of infringement of his privacy rights as well as the rights of the Company’s registered trademark and misuse of its corporate name by the Respondent.
The Complainant further submited that the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> consists of the Complainant’s personal name and also the registered trademark PURAVANKARA which is visually, phonetically and structurally identical to the Complainant’s personal name and the trademark. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com>. The Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> violates the Complainant’s rights in the trademark PURAVANKARA. As the Respondent is not connected to the trademark PURAVANKARA, the Respondent’s registration of disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> constitutes infringement and dilution of the trademarks.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
As per paragraph 5(e) of the Rules where a respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the panel may decide the dispute based upon the complaint. The Panel does not find any exceptional circumstances in this case preventing it from determining the dispute based upon the Complaint, notwithstanding the failure of the Respondent to file a response. As per paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, where a party does not comply with any provision of the Rules, the Panel is to draw such inferences there from as it considers appropriate. It remains incumbent on the Complainant to make out its case in all respects under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, which sets out the three elements that must be present for the proceeding to be brought against the Respondent, which the Complainant must prove to obtain a requested remedy. It provides as follows:
“4 (a). Applicable Disputes. You [the respondent] are required to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding in the event that a third party (a “complainant”) asserts to the applicable Provider, in compliance with the Rules of Procedure, that
(i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In the administrative proceeding, the complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present.”
The Panel will address the three aspects of the policy listed above.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has produced registration certificates granted by the Registrar of Trade Marks, Mumbai in favour of the Company in respect of the trademark PURAVANKARA.
While the Complainant is not the Company, in these circumstances, where, as the Complainant argues and the Panel agrees, the “company and the Complainant are interrelated and cannot be separated”, the Panel finds the Complainant to have rights in PURAVANKARA for the purposes of the Policy.
Additionally, the Panel finds that Ashish Puravankara has unregistered trademark rights in his personal name for the purposes of the first element of the Policy, and that the following analysis, written regarding the Complainant’s father, Ravi Puravankara, holds equally true for the Complainant:
“it is clear to the Panel that Complainant’s surname is used in commerce as the corporate name and identifier for the Puravankara Group of Companies and that Complainant himself is a very well-known businessperson…In the circumstances, the Panel finds that Complainant has trade mark rights in his personal name.” Mr. Ravi Puravankara, Chairman of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited v. Sam Singh, WIPO Case No. D2015-1172.
The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> wholly incorporating the Complainant’s trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA, which the Panel finds is sufficient to establish confusing similarity for the purpose of the Policy.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> is confusingly similar to the trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA of the Complainant.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com>. Nevertheless, it is well settled that the Complainant needs only to make out a prima facie case, after which the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to rebut such prima facie case by demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Paragraph 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”) deals with this issue as follows:
“While the overall burden of proof rests with the complainant, panels have recognized that this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore a complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. Once such prima facie case is made, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such appropriate allegations or evidence, a complainant is generally deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the UDRP…If the respondent does come forward with some allegations or evidence of relevant rights or legitimate interest, the panel then weighs all the evidence, with the burden of proof always remaining on the complainant.”
The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name consisting of the trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA. The Company has been using the trademark for a long time. Neither the Complainant nor the Company has authorized or permitted the Respondent to use the trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA. While the Respondent’s name appears to correspond with the disputed domain name, there is unrebutted argument in the Complaint that the Respondent has used false contact details, including a false name, to register the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy lists circumstances, in particular but without limitation, which, if found by the Panel to be proved, may demonstrate the respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in a domain name for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. The Respondent has not filed a response to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case and the Respondent has thus failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> as per paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
Based on the facts as stated above, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com>.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy identifies, in particular but without limitation, four circumstances which, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) is reproduced below:
“Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), 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 you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) 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.”
Each of the four circumstances in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, if found, is evidence of “registration and use of a domain name in bad faith”.
The Complainant is required to prove that both that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith and that it is being used in bad faith because in paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the provision contains the conjunction “and” rather than “or” and it refers to both the past tense (“has been registered”) and the present tense (“is being used”). Hence, circumstances at the time of registration and thereafter have to be considered by the Panel. The Complainant is required to prove that the registration was undertaken in bad faith and that the circumstances of the case are such that the Respondent is continuing to act in bad faith.
The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> and his website contains only one page containing a few sponsored listings including listing a few builders and businesses similar to the business of the Company. Thus he is attempting to attract Internet users to his website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website. The Complainant has not granted the Respondent permission or a license of any kind to use its trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA and register the disputed domain name. Such unauthorized registration and use of the trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA by the Respondent suggests opportunistic bad faith. The Respondent’s true purpose in registering and using the disputed domain name which incorporates the well-known trademarks of the Complainant is, in the Panel’s view, to capitalize on the reputation of the trademarks PURAVANKARA and ASHISH PURAVANKARA.
The Panel therefore finds that the domain name <ashishpuravankara.com> has been registered and is being used by the Respondent 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 <ashishpuravankara.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dr. Ashwinie Kumar Bansal
Dated: August 19, 2015