WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Al Jazeera Media Network v. Martin Musyoka, Kenya / News Group
Case No. D2017-2171
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Al Jazeera Media Network of Doha, Qatar, represented by Eithar Abutaha, Qatar.
The Respondent is Martin Musyoka, Kenya / News Group of Nairobi, Kenya.
2. The Domain Names and Registrars
The disputed domain name <aljazeera-channel.com> is registered with Key-Systems GmbH dba domaindiscount24.com (the "Registrar 1"). The disputed domain name <aljazeeranews-tv.com> is registered with Wild West Domains, LLC (the "Registrar 2").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 6, 2017. On November 6, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On November 7, 2018, the Registrar 1 transmitted by email to the Center its verification response and on November 30, 2018 the Registrar 2 transmitted by email to the Center its verification response, both 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 December 8, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 28, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on January 2, 2018.
The Center appointed Alistair Payne as the sole panelist in this matter on January 17, 2018. 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 global media corporation that operates, in particular, a range of free to air satellite television news channels in many countries worldwide under the AL JAZEERA name or mark. It has been operating under this name or mark since 1996 and owns trade mark registrations in various jurisdictions for its mark, including in the United States of America ("United States") under registration 3820209 registered on July 20, 2010. It has also for many years owned the domain names <aljazeera.net> and <aljazeera.com> through which the Complainant offers free news services, live TV streaming, and advertising services.
The disputed domain names were first registered on October 27, 2016. The Complainant submitted evidence showing that both disputed domain names resolved to a website offering news services. Currently, the disputed domain name <aljazeera-channel.com> does not resolve to an active website, whereas the disputed domain name <aljazeeranews-tv.com> is parked by the Registrar 2.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant submits that it owns registered trade mark rights in its AL JAZEERA word mark as set out above. It says that each of the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to its very well reputed trade mark on the basis that the Respondent has intentionally sought to incorporate the Complainant's trade mark in whole in each of the disputed domain names and that the common English terms "tv", "news" and "channel" do not distinguish the disputed domain names, but only contribute to the degree of confusing similarity of the news services offered by the Respondent with those offered by the Complainant.
The Complainant says that it has never licensed its AL JAZEERA mark, or its well-known logo mark, to the Respondent but notes that the Respondent has used both in order to attract Internet users and to redirect to them to other websites that sell other goods and services. This, says the Complainant, demonstrates that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
As far as bad faith is concerned, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has used the disputed domain names to provide news services through which it also sells advertising and that this amounts to the Respondent cashing in on the goodwill of the Complainant and confusing online consumers. The Complainant has noted several examples of the Respondent reporting news incorrectly and governmental bodies or media organisations apparently being confused into thinking that the Complainant was the source of news reported on the Respondent's websites at the disputed domain names. In addition, the Complainant notes that the websites associated with the disputed domain names advertise adult products that are not appropriate for the Complainant's viewers and as a result that the Respondent is intentionally tarnishing the Complainant's reputation and is interfering with the Complainant's business of selling online advertisements. This says the Complainant amounts to evidence of registration and use in bad faith of the disputed domain names.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has demonstrated that it owns United States trade mark registration 3820209 for its highly distinctive AL JAZEERA word mark that was registered on July 20, 2010. The disputed domain names each wholly incorporate this mark. The addition of "-channel" on the one hand and "news-tv" on the other to the inclusion of the distinctive AL JAZEERA mark do not distinguish each of the disputed domain names from the Complainant's mark. These additional terms are common English words and in view of the Complainant's broadcasting activities only serve to heighten potential Internet user confusion. Accordingly, the Panel finds that each of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to the Complainant's AL JAZEERA trade mark and the Complaint succeeds under this element of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant submits that it has not licensed its AL JAZEERA mark or its well-known logo mark (which is also registered in the United States under registration number 2849088) to the Respondent. It says that the Respondent has used both marks either on its website at the disputed domain names, or on the address window, in presenting its own news service and has provided copies of the website in evidence.
As further discussed below, it appears that the Respondent has chosen the disputed domain names and used the Complainant's marks at the address window for its news website, specifically to attract Internet users and to confuse them into thinking that they have arrived at the Complainant's website or to a website that has some association with the Complainant. This is neither conduct in good faith nor an exercise of the Respondent's legitimate interests.
As a result, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in each of the disputed domain names. The Respondent has failed to rebut this case and therefore the Panel finds that the Complaint also succeeds under this element of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain names were registered on October 27, 2016. By that date the Complainant's cable broadcasting and news services and websites at <aljazeera.net> and <aljazeera.com> had been available for many years in a variety of countries throughout the world. Considering the distinctive nature of the AL JAZEERA mark and the fact that the Respondent has also replicated Complainant's highly distinctive logo mark on the address window to its website to which the disputed domain names resolved, the overwhelming inference is that the Respondent knew about the Complainant's business and the AL JAZEERA mark when he registered the disputed domain names and therefore that he registered them in bad faith.
The Respondent appears to have set out to confuse Internet users as to whether the website to which the disputed domain names resolved was the Complainant's or had some association with the Complainant. The website address window featured both the Complainant's mark and distinctive logo and the website itself featured a news service presented in a format that had similarities to the Complainant's site. In addition, however, the Respondent's site featured links to advertisements, also featured some adult targeted photographs and according to the Complainant also featured certain "fake news" articles.
Under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy there is deemed evidence of registration and use of a disputed domain name in bad faith where it is found that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users for commercial gain to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion as to source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement. It is clear in this case that this is precisely what the Respondent has sought to do by using the Complainant's name and logo marks in the disputed domain names in order to confuse Internet users into thinking that they were arriving at the Complainant's news sites when they were in fact on the Respondent's website. That there is evidence of advertising at this site is indicative of the Respondent's use of it for commercial purposes and of its intention to redirect Internet users for its own commercial purposes in terms of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
This is a classic case of cybersquatting in which the Respondent has blatantly sought to use the Complainant's mark in the disputed domain names for its own commercial purposes. The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names have both been registered and used in bad faith and that the complaint also succeeds under this element 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 names <aljazeera-channel.com> and <aljazeeranews-tv.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 31, 2018