WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Middle East News FZ - LLC v. Alex Junior
Case No. D2017-1804
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Middle East News FZ - LLC of Dubai, United Arab Emirates ("UAE"), represented by Hadef & Partners, UAE.
The Respondent is Alex Junior of Arden, Alabama, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name, <alarabyia.org> (the "Domain Name"), is registered with 1API GmbH (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on September 20, 2017. On September 21, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On September 22, 2017, 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 Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 26, 2017, to correct an administrative formality.
The Center verified that the Complaint and 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 27, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 17, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on October 18, 2017.
The Center appointed Tony Willoughby as the sole panelist in this matter on November 3, 2017. 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, a company incorporated in the UAE, is a member of a group of companies, which between them constitute one of the world's largest Arab language television and news broadcasters.
The unchallenged evidence of the Complainant is that it launched its "Al Arabiya News Channel" in 2003/4. It is the proprietor of a number of trade mark registrations comprising the name "Al Arabiya" including UAE registration no. 183090 AL ARABIYA (device mark in English and Arabic) registered on July 2, 2014 in class 9. The Complainant operates an active website at "www.alarabiya.net".
The Domain Name was registered on May 21, 2017. It diverts to the Complainant's website at "www.alarabiya.net".
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's AL ARABIYA registered trade mark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 each of the following, namely that:
(i) The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark 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.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has demonstrated that it has registered trade mark rights in respect of AL ARABIYA. The trade mark is a device mark but the outstanding feature is the AL ARABIYA element in both Arabic and English.
For the purpose of the assessment under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy it is permissible for the Panel to ignore the ".org" generic Top-Level Domain ("gTLD") identifier, where, as here, it serves nothing more than a technical function. Thus the comparison is between "alarabyia" and AL ARABIYA. Plainly the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trade mark and the Panel so finds.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has produced evidence to establish that the Domain Name, a confusingly similar variant of the Complainant's registered trade mark, is being used to divert Internet users to the Complainant's operational website at "www.alarabiya.net". The Complainant asserts that the Respondent necessarily is aware of the existence of the Complainant. The Complainant recites the examples of the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, which shall be evidence of rights or legitimate interests in respect of a domain name, and contends that none of them is applicable in this case.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case, a case calling for an answer from the Respondent.
In the absence of any answer from the Respondent and the Panel being unable to conceive of any basis upon which the Respondent could be said to have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Here the Respondent has registered a mis-spelling of the Complainant's trade mark and has used the Domain Name to divert visitors to the Complainant's operational website. In so doing, as the Complainant contends, the Respondent is necessarily representing (contrary to the fact) that the Domain Name is a domain name associated with the Complainant. In the view of the Panel, the Respondent must be taken to have intended the consequences of his actions. Furthermore, in the view of the Panel, to have registered a domain name confusingly similar to the Complainant's trade mark and to be using it in a manner calculated to foment that confusion constitutes a reprehensible abusive registration of the Domain Name.
While it is true that the Domain Name currently resolves to the Complainant's own website and in that sense is only likely to be causing little (if any) damage to the Complainant's legitimate interests, the Panel finds it inherently improbable that the Respondent's long term intention is to leave matters as they stand. There is no knowing how the Respondent may use the Domain Name in the future. The Panel finds the current use to constitutes an abusive threat hanging over the head of the Complainant and, as such, a continuing bad faith use.
For completeness, the Panel mentions that the Complainant asserts in the Complaint: "The Respondent is using the name, with slight typo, in social media and created accounts to publish inaccurate or false news which damage the credibility of the Complainant." However, the Complainant has produced no evidence in support of that allegation and the Panel has ignored it.
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, <alarabyia.org>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 4, 2017