WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Caesars Interactive Entertainment, LLC v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp. / Rajesh Sandruck
Case No. D2018-1382
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Caesars Interactive Entertainment, LLC of Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America (“United States”), represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp. of Nassau, Bahamas / Rajesh Sandruck of Vishakapatnam, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <wsopfreechips2018.info> is registered with Internet Domain Service BS Corp (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 20, 2018. On June 21, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 22, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the Respondent’s 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 June 27, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 17, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 18, 2018.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on July 30, 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 the owner and operator of a poker tournament called the World Series of Poker. Since, at least, 2003, the tournament has also been referred to by its acronym, WSOP.
The Complainant has registered the trademarks WORLD SERIES OF POKER, WSOP and a design mark depicting a poker chip and with the words WORLD SERIES OF POKER (“the WSOP Chip Design mark”) in multiple jurisdictions. Its WSOP registrations include Indian trademark registration number 1334060, registered on January 24, 2005, for goods in International Classes 16 and 28.
The Complainant operates a website at “www.wsop.com” which provides information about the World Series of Poker, and which also publishes schedules for events and sells World Series of Poker branded merchandise.
In addition to its website, the Complainant has made available a WSOP app which is produced and distributed by a licensee of the Complainant and which has been extensively downloaded.
The disputed domain name was registered on November 10, 2017. It points to a website, the home page of which is headed “WSOP FREE CHIPS 2018 GENERATOR” and which contains a depiction of the Complainant´s WSOP Chip Design mark.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s WSOP trademark since it consists of the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety with the addition of the generic terms “free chips 2018”.
The Complainant further submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use its trademarks neither in the disputed domain name nor on the corresponding website. The Respondent’s action is therefore not a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy. Also, the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. On the contrary, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is used for fraudulent activities since it is used for a website that claims to offer free WSOP chips for the WSOP App, but which is purportedly to eventually illegally hack into the Complainant’s website and offer WSOP Chips to users of the WSOP App that have not paid for them.
Finally, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is used in bad faith. The Complainant registered and has extensively used its WSOP mark prior to the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name. Further, the Respondent intentionally attempts to attract Internet searchers to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website. The fact that the Respondent uses the Complainant’s trademarks WORLD SERIES OF POKER, WSOP and the WSOP Chip Design mark on the website at the disputed domain name adds to the claim that the Respondent it is seeking to create a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant and the Complainant’s marks. The Respondent’s bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name is further supported by the Respondent’s use of a privacy service for the registration.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that a complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules, or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar (in the sense of the Policy) to the Complainant’s registered trademark because it contains the Complainant’s registered trademark WSOP in its entirety with the addition of the descriptive terms “free chips 2018”. The addition of descriptive terms as suffixes to the trademark to form the disputed domain name does not, to this Panel, dispel a finding of confusing similarity. In addition, it has also long been held by UDRP panels that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix does not preclude a finding of confusing similarity where it otherwise exists, as it does in the present case.
The Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are therefore fulfilled in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to the Complaint, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark.
Further, given the circumstances of this case, the Panel believes the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not rebutted this, and the way the Respondent has been and is using the disputed domain name (see below in Section C) does not support a finding of rights or legitimate interests.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides examples of circumstances which shall be evidence of registration and use in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the holder has registered or has 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 the holder’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the holder has 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 the holder has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the holder has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the holder has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the holder’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the holder’s website or location or of a product or service on the holder’s website or location.
Accordingly, for the Complainant to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Given the circumstances of the case, in particular the extent of use of the Complainant’s WSOP mark, the reputation and the distinctive nature of the mark, the nature of the disputed domain name incorporating the mark, and the use to which the disputed domain name has been put, it is inconceivable to the Panel in the current circumstances that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name without prior knowledge of the Complainant and the Complainant’s mark. Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that the disputed domain name it chose could attract Internet users in a manner that is likely to create confusion for such users.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.
The disputed domain name is used for a website on which the Respondent uses the Complainant’s trademarks WORLD SERIES OF POKER and WSOP as well as the Complainant’s WSOP Chip Design mark. The content of the website thus makes clear references to the Complainant and the Complainant’s activities under the said marks. This clearly gives Internet users the impression that the website is authorized or endorsed by the Complainant, which is not the case.
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent by its registration and use of the disputed domain name intentionally creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain names with the purpose of attracting Internet users to the website for commercial gain. Moreover, the Panel finds that this use of the disputed domain name disrupts the Complainant’s business.
Finally, the Panel agrees with the Complainant’s claim that since the the Respondent is operating a commercial, trademark-abusive and fraudulent website, the Respondent’s use of a privacy service supports the finding of bad faith. Reference is made to section 3.6 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Noting that the disputed domain name incorporates a well-known trademark, that no response has been filed, that there appears to be no conceivable good faith use that could be made by the Respondent of the disputed domain name and considering all the facts and evidence, the Panel finds that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy are also fulfilled in this case.
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 <wsopfreechips2018.info> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: August 10, 2018