WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Türkiye Vakıflar Bankası T.A.O. v. Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot
Case No. D2019-0513
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Türkiye Vakıflar Bankası T.A.O. of Istanbul, Turkey, represented by Durmaz Law Firm, Turkey.
The Respondent is Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot of San Mateo, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <vakıfbank.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 March 6, 2019. On March 6, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 8, 2019, 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 March 11, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 31, 2019. On March 11, 2019, the Complainant submitted an email indicating that the Respondent may try to transfer the disputed domain name. The Center informed the Parties that if they wish to explore settlement options, the Complainant should submit a request for suspension. The Complainant did not submit a suspension request. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 2, 2019.
The Center appointed Kaya Köklü as the sole panelist in this matter on April 23, 2019. 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 Turkish bank established in 1954. It is one of the largest Turkish banks and is commonly known among Turkish citizens.
The Complainant owns various trademark registrations for its VAKIFBANK mark, such as Turkish Trademark Registration No. 200106296, registered with the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office on April 6, 2001, covering protection for inter alia financial services.
The Complainant also owns and operates various domain names since at least 1999, such as <vakifbank.com> and <vakifbank.com.tr>.
The disputed domain name was registered on January 21, 2012.
The nominal Respondent is a privacy service located in the United States of America. The true identity of the person who initiated the disputed domain name registration has not been revealed by the privacy service.
At the time of the decision, the disputed domain name resolves to the website of an independent search engine. As evidenced in Annex 6 to the Complaint, the disputed domain name previously resolved to a pay-per-click page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant is of the opinion that the disputed domain name is identical to its VAKIFBANK trademark.
Furthermore, the Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It is rather argued that the disputed domain name falsely suggests that there is an official or authorized link between the Complainant and the Respondent.
Finally, it is argued that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant particularly argues that the Respondent must have been well aware of the Complainant’s VAKIFBANK trademark, when registering and taking control over the disputed domain name.
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.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant bears the burden of proving that all these requirements are fulfilled, even if the Respondent has not replied to the Complaint’s contentions. Stanworth Development Limited v. E Net Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1228.
However, concerning the uncontested information provided by the Complainant, the Panel may, where relevant, accept the provided reasonable factual allegations in the Complaint as true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
It is further noted that the Panel has taken note of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, where appropriate, will decide consistent with the views stated therein.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has registered trademark rights in the mark VAKIFBANK by virtue of various trademark registrations in Turkey.
The disputed domain name is in view of the Panel identical to the Complainant’s VAKIFBANK trademark as it incorporates the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety without any additions or amendments.
In the Panel’s view, the mere addition of a generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) like “.com” may, as a general principle, be disregarded when assessing identity or confusing similarity between a domain name and a trademark (in line with prior UDRP panels concerning the use of a gTLD within a domain name, cf. V&S Vin & Sprit AB v. Ooar Supplies, WIPO Case No. D2004-0962; Google Inc. v. Nijat Hassanov, WIPO Case No. D2011-1054).
In view of the above, the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has met the requirements under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel further finds that the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
While the burden of proof on this element remains with the complainant, previous UDRP panels have recognized that this would result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, in particular as the evidence in this regard is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore, the Panel agrees with prior UDRP panels that the Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case before the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to meet the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this requirement, while the Respondent has failed to file any evidence or make any convincing argument to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name according to the Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(c).
In its Complaint, the Complainant has provided uncontested prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to use the Complainant’s trademark VAKIFBANK, specially as the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant´s trademark (see section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
There is also no indication in the current record that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name. In the absence of a Response, the Respondent has particularly failed to demonstrate any of the other non-exclusive circumstances evidencing rights or legitimate interests under the Policy, paragraph 4(c) or other evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
As a conclusion, the Panel finds that the Complainant has also satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is further convinced that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel notes the reputation and wide recognition of the Complainant’s VAKIFBANK trademark in Turkey. The Panel is accordingly convinced that the Respondent must have had the Complainant’s trademark in mind when registering the disputed domain name.
In the Panel’s view, it even appears that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name for the purpose of creating an association with the Complainant. By registering and using the disputed domain name, which is identical to the VAKIFBANK trademark of the Complainant, the Respondent apparently targets the diversion of Internet traffic from the Complainant’s site to the Respondent’s site. Noting that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, the use of the disputed domain name incorporating the identical trademark and redirecting Internet users to a pay-per-click page for commercial gain, is sufficient evidence of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. See in this regard WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.5. The Panel finds this a valid indication for bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.
Furthermore, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s failure to respond substantively to the Complaint also supports the conclusion that it has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Panel believes that, if the Respondent did in fact have legitimate purposes in registering and using the disputed domain name, it would have probably responded.
The fact that the disputed domain name currently redirects to “www.google.com” does not prevent a finding of bad faith registration and use.
All in all, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is used in bad faith and that the Complainant has also satisfied the third element of the Policy, namely, paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 <vakıfbank.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 5, 2019