WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Independent News Services Private Ltd. v. Rahul Mittal
Case No. D2019-0871
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Independent News Services Private Ltd., India, represented by Singh & Singh Advocates, India.
The Respondent is Rahul Mittal, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <india7tv.com> is registered with BigRock Solutions Pvt Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 17, 2019. On April 17, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 18, 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 April 24, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 14, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 17, 2019.
The Center appointed Dr. Vinod K. Agarwal as the sole panelist in this matter on May 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
In the present case, the Complainant was incorporated in the year 1997 under the Companies Act, 1956 of India by Mr. Rajat Sharma, a well-known Indian journalist and TV Anchor who is also the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the Complainant. In 2002, the Complainant uplinked its 24 hour Hindi news channel called India TV (“Hindi” means language of India). Thus, the mark INDIA TV was adopted in 2002 and the news channel India TV was launched in March 2004. “India TV” is a 24-hour Hindi news channel. The channel India TV is uplinked through the Satellite Intelset Pas 10.
Since its launch in 2004, the channel has grown in strength and has become one of the leading Hindi news channels in India. The channel has the unique credit of having raised issues of public concern including consumer rights and programs highlighting public importance.
The said channel can be viewed in 150 countries in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, China, etc.
According to the Complaint, as per figures available with Alexa.com, the Complainant’s website “www.indiatvnews.com” is ranked 9,043 globally as of April, 2019 while being ranked as 772 for Indian sites.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that each of the three elements specified in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are applicable to the present dispute.
In relation to element (i), the Complainant contends that the word “INDIA TV” is the registered trademark of the Complainant. The said trademark INDIA TV of the Complainant was registered in India on January 22, 2004 in classes 38 and 41. The said trademark has been used by the Complainant extensively making it distinctive and synonymous to the Complainant and its services provided under the said mark/name. The trademark INDIA TV enjoys great reputation and immense goodwill. The other derivatives of the trademark, namely, “INDIA TV WIZ”, “Indiatvnews”, etc. are also registered as trademarks. Further, a large number of applications for the registration of other similar trademarks are also pending with registration authorities in India.
According to the Complaint, the Complainant also owns several domain names, which contain its registered trademark/name INDIA TV. The illustrations of such domain names are <indiatvnews.com>; <indiatvlifestyle.com>; <indiatvcricket.com>; <indiatvkhabar.in>; <dailyindiatv.com>; etc. Further, the Complainant’s channel India TV and its website “www.indiatvnews.com” have consistently kept pace with the modern technological advances in the field of broadcasting and webcasting.
By virtue of prior adoption, long and continuous use and extensive publicity and promotion, the trade name and trademark INDIA TV have acquired goodwill and reputation worldwide amongst the public in general. Thus, it is associated by the public exclusively with the Complainant and their services and products.
The registration of the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> by the Respondent is confusing inasmuch as it causes the public to believe that the Respondent is associated with the Complainant and also violates the Complainant’s INDIA TV trademark rights. Thus, the intention of the Respondent is to create confusion in the market and business circles.
In relation to element (ii), the Complainant contends that the Complainant’s trademark INDIA TV has become highly distinctive of the services of the Complainant on account of extensive use, viewership and promotion. The registration of the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> amounts to taking unfair advantage of the Complainant’s reputation and goodwill. It is completely detrimental to the distinctive character of the Complainant’s trademark INDIA TV.
Further, the Respondent is in no way related to the Complainant. The Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted or granted to the Respondent an authorization or a right to use their trademark or to apply for or use the disputed domain name incorporating the trademark and that nobody would use the words “India TV” unless seeking to create an impression of an association with the Complainant,
The act of the Respondent constitutes infringement and passing off of the trademark of the Complainant. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name for the sole purpose of creating confusion and misleading the public and the customers of the Complainant. Thus, it is contended that there were no rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in the disputed domain name.
Regarding the element (iii), the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> was registered in bad faith to obtain unfair commercial gain, at the expense of the Complainant.
The purpose and intent of the Respondent in adopting the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> is to en-cash on the name, fame, reputation, image and goodwill of the Complainant which has been built up assiduously over the last 15 years. The services rendered by the Respondent under the disputed domain name are somewhat identical to the services provided by the Complainant. In other words, the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith with the mala fide intention to dupe, Internet users into believing that the Respondent is associated with the Complainant and creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website.
In the disputed domain name the Respondent has added the suffix “7” in between “India” and “tv” to attract Internet users to its website as users may type by mistake “7” in place of “&” in the search bar as both the characters are place together on the keyboard.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
As per the WHOIS information, the Respondent has created the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> on January 26, 2019. Its expiry date is January 26, 2021.
According to the information submitted by the Complainant, the Complainant is the owner of the trademark INDIA TV and its derivatives/formatives in India. The Complainant has provided evidence of its registration of the trademark INDIA TV in several classes. There is therefore no ambiguity or doubt regarding the Complainant’s ownership rights in the mark.
The present dispute pertains to the disputed domain name <india7tv.com>. The Complainant possesses a large number of other domain names with the word “indiatv”. Most of them, as well as the trademark, have been created by the Complainant before the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> was registered by the Respondent. The addition of the numeral “7” is inconsequential. It does not distinguish the disputed domain name with the trademark or domain names of the Complainant. Thus, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> is confusingly similar or identical to the trademarks of the Complainant. Accordingly, the requirement under the first element of the Policy has been satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the Respondent may demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name by proving any of the following circumstances:
(i) before any notice to the Respondent of the dispute, the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the Respondent (as an individual, business or other organization) has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if the Respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
The Respondent has not filed any Response in this case. There is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has become known by the disputed domain name anywhere in the world. The Respondent is known by the name of Mr. Rahul Mittal. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the name and its trademark INDIA TV.
It is evident that the Respondent can have no legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Further, in view of the fact that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark or to apply for or use the disputed domain name incorporating the trademark of the Complainant and that nobody would use the words “India TV” unless seeking to create an impression of an association with the Complainant. Further, the Respondent’s display of the webpage when considered in its entirety does not constitute bona fide offering of services.
Based on the default and the evidence provided in the Complaint, the Panel finds that the above circumstances do not exist in this case and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, shall be considered evidence of the registration or use of the domain name in bad faith:
(i) Circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) The Respondent has registered the disputed 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 it has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) By using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s web site or location or of a product or service on its website or location.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> was registered or acquired by the Respondent primarily for the purpose of carrying on some business in competition to the Complainant. The disputed domain name is being used to attract Internet users to a website that provides similar services of the Complainant, under the websites “indiatvnews.com” and “khabarindiatv.com” with the intent to deceive the members of the public deliberately and intentionally, with a view to trade upon and encash on the name, fame, reputation, image and goodwill acquired by the Complainant.
It is a systematic attempt by the Respondent to derive unfair advantage, wrongful commercial gains and to mislead the public. The Respondent is not making a noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
This and the other evidence submitted by the Complainant leads to the presumption that the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> was registered and used by the Respondent in bad faith.
The Panel concludes that the registration of the disputed domain name amounts to the registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
In support of the Complaint, the Complainant has relied on certain earlier decisions in their favor. The same have been carefully considered.
In the light of the foregoing reasons, namely, that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainant has a right, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <india7tv.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Vinod K. Agarwal
Date: June 6, 2019