WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
BPG SRL v. Liqian Hunanchangsha
Case No. D2016-0215
1. The Parties
The Complainant is BPG SRL of Rome, Italy, represented by SafeNames Ltd., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”).
The Respondent is Liqian Hunanchangsha of Chansha, Hunan, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wwwnetbet.com> 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 4, 2016. On February 4, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 4, 2016, 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 10, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 1, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 2, 2016.
The Center appointed Beatrice Onica Jarka as the sole panelist in this matter on March 16, 2016. 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 the owner of the trademarked term NETBET which was registered as a community trademark on May 16, 2012 under the goods and services classes 23, 35, 41 and 42 (according to Annex 4 to the Complaint). The Complainant offers its services through its licensed website using the trade name and trademark NETBET ( “www.netbet.com”) and other sub-domains which include the trade name.
The Complainant and operator of the NETBET brand are BPG SRL, a company based in Rome, Italy. NETBET is an online casino which was established in 2001 and has held a European License from Malta since 2006 which makes it possible for the Complainant to offer a range of casino games and submits to be the market leader and provider of online casino games and sports betting.
The NETBET site boasts thousands of registered players and is available in a variety of languages making it renowned in Europe. Offering 360 state-of-the-art games with bonus offers on its website, the Complainant guarantees users complete confidentiality and security by using the latest technology and a team of experts who closely monitor all transactions made on the site.
The disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent on October 13, 2013 and is being used to redirect users to an affiliate site of “Casino Cruise” who is a competitor of the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that:
- the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark NETBET as the domain name fully incorporates the registered trademark NETBET with the letters “www” attached;
- the disputed domain name currently redirects users to the site belonging to the company Casino Cruise which adds an element of confusion as NETBET customers may be led to believe that CASINO CRUISE is associated with the Complainant’s NETBET;
- the Respondent should be considered as having no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name: the Respondent is not commonly known by the trade name NETBET and does not own a trademark with the term, there is no other evidence which suggest they are linked with the Complainant or have been known as NETBET in the past, and the Complainant has not granted a license or given any authorization for the Respondent to use the mark in any manner nor is there an affiliation between the Complainant and the Respondent to justify the use of the registered trademark within the disputed domain name;
- the disputed domain name is being used to redirect users to an affiliate site of Casino Cruise who is a competitor of the Complainant;
- the Respondent is currently an affiliate of <au.casinocruise.com> as seen from the affiliate ID which appears on the URL once the customer has been redirected to the site; see Annex 5 to the Complaint;
- as of November 2015 the disputed domain name has been used to promote a range of competitor’s websites, see Annex 6 to the Complaint. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to confuse customers by directing them to the Complainant’s site;
- the Respondent, who is an affiliate of the Complainant’s competitor is misleadingly diverting customers of the Complainant’s to the competitor’s site which, in turn, provides the Respondent with some form of monetary gain from the disputed domain name which does not constitute a legitimate right or interest under the Policy;
- the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent on October 13, 2013 which is after the Complainant had registered their trademark and the disputed domain name has been solely used as a portal to redirect Internet traffic to the Complainant’s competitor’s site which the Respondent is an affiliate of, which is bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name;
- the act of registering the disputed domain name has the effect of disrupting the business of the Complainant, as the services that are being offered on the site are similar to what the Complainant offers. The redirection to a website other than the Complainant’s may leave customers under the impression that there is a connection between the two. The mere redirection to another casino related website proves that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract the Complainant’s Internet traffic for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the affiliation with the disputed domain name and its content.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Policy requires that the Complainant shows that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
Based on the assertions of the Complainant and the evidence presented supporting these assertions, the Panel finds that Complainant is the owner of the trademark NETBET which was registered as a community trademark on May 16, 2012 under the goods and services classes 23, 35, 41 and 42 (according to Annex 4 to the Complaint) and that the Complainant offers its services through its licensed website using the trade name and trademark NETBET (“www.netbet.com”) and other sub-domains which include the trade name.
This Panel also agrees with the Complainant that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark NETBET as the disputed domain name fully incorporates the registered trademark NETBET with the letters “www” attached. The Panel finds that the prefix “www” is not to be considered a factor of differentiation as it has no distinguishing capacity when included in a domain name, being the acronym of “world wide web” as stated in Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441, transferring <wwwreuters.com>; and Ticketmaster Corporation v. Woofer Smith, WIPO Case No. D2003-0346; transferring <wwwticketmaster.com>. Such addition may be considered also a typosquatting by which the Respondent is looking to take advantage of Internet users who mistakenly omit the punctuation mark “.” after the sub domain and the omission of the punctuation mark does not distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainants trademark NETBET.
For all the reasons above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the mark and that the Complainant has established the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under this element of the Policy, the Complainant has to make at least a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. If the Complainant makes that showing, the burden of production shifts to the Respondent, as indicated in the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”), paragraph 2.1.
This Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and such showing has not been rebutted by the Respondent.
The Panel is persuaded by the Complainant’s assertions that the Respondent is not commonly known by the trade name NETBET and does not own a trademark with the term, there is no link or no affiliation between the Respondent and the Complainant neither has the Respondent been known as NETBET in the past.
Moreover, this Panel finds that the disputed domain dame is being used to redirect users to an affiliate site of “Casino Cruise” who is a competitor of the Complainant and that apparently the Respondent is provided with some form of monetary gain from the disputed domain name. Such conduct of the Respondent cannot represent a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy. On this specific issue, absent any rebuttal from the Respondent, the Panel is inclined to agree with the Complainant assertions that the mere redirection of the disputed domain name straight to a competitor’s website shows that the Respondent had made a mindful decision to use the Complainant’s trademark value within the disputed domain name to divert the Complainant’s customers to the competitor’s site. Such activities do not, in the Panel’s view, amount to bona fide commercial use (see, inter alia, ACCOR v. Steve Kerry/North West Enterprise, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2006-0649, “linking to competitive third-party websites shows that Respondent is well aware of Complainant as well as of its products and activities, and, [that] instead of making a bona fide use of the domain name, [the Respondent] rather intends to have a free ride on the fame and goodwill of Complainant and its trademarks”. See also mVisible Technologies, Inc. v. Navigation Catalyst Systems, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-1141, “If the links on a given landing page [...] are based on the trademark value of the domain names, the trend in UDRP decisions is to recognize that such practices generally […] constitute abusive cybersquatting”).
Accordingly, the Complainant has demonstrated that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and therefore, the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is established.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant asserts several circumstances which, in the opinion of the Panel, evidence the bad faith of the Respondent in registering and using the disputed domain name.
This Panel finds that it is apparent from the evidence provided by the Complainant that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily to redirect Internet users to a competing website, which amounts to clear knowledge of the Complainant and the services that it offers which is why the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s trademark to divert customers to the site he is an affiliate of for commercial gain. As the Complainant asserts, when a customer clicks on the “play now” button on the site the user is redirected further to Casino Cruise’s official registration page which is the point where the Respondent would receive a monetary value amount for the redirection.
The Panel agrees with the Complainant that it appears the Respondent’s choice to register the confusingly similar domain name was deliberate with the intention to benefit from the reputation the Complainant has acquired through its trademark and finds that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith by attempting to attract Internet users to the website for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website.
Moreover, the Respondent made no effort to refute the Complainant’s allegations in this regard.
In the light of the findings above, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
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 <wwwnetbet.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Beatrice Onica Jarka
Date: March 30, 2016