WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Kamarq Holdings Pte. Ltd. v. John Smith

Case No. D2019-1408

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Kamarq Holdings Pte. Ltd., Singapore, represented by Mori Hamada & Matsumoto Law Firm, Singapore.

The Respondent is John Smith, United States of America (“United States”), internally-represented.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <kamarq.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 18, 2019. On June 19, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 20, 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 July 17, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 6, 2019. The Response was filed with the Center on August 4, 2019.

The Center appointed Jane Seager as the sole panelist in this matter on August 13, 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, Kamarq Holdings Pte. Ltd., is engaged in the design and sale of furniture. The Complainant was incorporated in Singapore on June 11, 2014.

For use in connection with the Complainant’s furniture products, the Complainant is the registrant of, inter alia, the following trademarks:

- Singaporean Trademark Registration No. 40201620237S, KAMARQ, registered on May 31, 2016;

- International Trademark Registration No. 1320628, KAMARQ, registered on May 31, 2016;

- Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5855103, KAMARQ, registered on June 3, 2016;

- Malaysian Trademark Registration No. 2016060271, KAMARQ, registered on August 29, 2017; and

- United States Trademark Registration No. 5563051, KAMARQ, registered on September 18, 2018.

The Complainant owns various domain names reflecting its KAMARQ trademark, including <kamarq.net>, from which it operates its corporate website.

The disputed domain name was registered on November 19, 2012. At the time of this decision, the disputed domain name resolves to a blank page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is identical to the KAMARQ trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

The Complainant further submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant states that the only use to which the disputed domain name has been put is to redirect Internet users to a pornographic website based in Japan.

The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant states that it was established in Singapore on June 11, 2014, and that it has subsidiaries in various other countries, including Indonesia, Japan, and the United States. The Complainant states that it has used the KAMARQ trademark extensively and continuously in the furniture industry since 2014, and has invested significantly in advertising and promoting the KAMARQ trademark. The Complainant infers that the Respondent profits from operating the pornographic website to which the disputed domain name redirects, or that the Respondent receives advertising fees from the operator of the website for the redirection of Internet traffic seeking the Complainant. As such, claims the Complainant, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location, pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The Complainant further submits that the redirection of the disputed domain name to a pornographic website causes a significant negative impact on the Complainant’s reputation, from which the Complainant infers that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor, pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.

The Complainant further explains that domain name brokers have contacted the Complainant soliciting the Complainant to purchase the disputed domain name. The Complainant states that in 2017, a broker, acting on behalf of the Respondent, offered repeatedly to sell the disputed domain name for USD 50,000. The Complainant states that in February 2018, it made an offer to purchase the disputed domain for USD 25,000, but that the offer was not accepted. In light of the above, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name was registered for the primary purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out‑of‑pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name, in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy.

The Complainant requests transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent claims that “KamarQ”, read as “kamarku”, means “my room” in Indonesian. The Respondent states that in 2011 it developed a business idea to create an Indonesian version of Airbnb and registered the disputed domain name in 2012 in connection with this business concept. The Respondent states that it engaged a graphic designer to help create a logo to be used in connection with its accommodation business. The Respondent claims that due to political and economic reasons, the Respondent postponed the launching of its KamarQ business.

The Respondent denies redirecting the disputed domain name to a pornographic website. In support of this, the Respondent provides copies of “redirect checkers” to show that there is no redirection from the disputed domain name to any other website. The Respondent states that the disputed domain name is not live for the public, but rather is being used for backend development and for email purposes.

The Respondent submits that the Complainant cannot make out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, when at the time that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name, the Complainant itself had no rights in a trademark corresponding to the disputed domain name.

The Respondent states that it obtained the disputed domain name in 2012, two years prior to the establishment of the Complainant’s company, and three years prior to the registration of the Complainant’s trademark rights in 2015. As such, the Respondent asserts that the registration of the disputed domain name could not have been in bad faith, as the Respondent could not have contemplated the Complainant’s then non-existent rights.

The Respondent notes that the Complainant has not provided any evidence of its investment in the advertising and promotion of the KARMARQ trademark. The Respondent further asserts that, based on the near non-existent amount of traffic to the disputed domain name, the Complainant’s assertion that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name to attract Internet users intending to access the Complainant’s website or services, for commercial gain, is false and is not proven.

The Respondent states that it has never considered selling the disputed domain name, as the Respondent is using the disputed domain name and plans to launch its KamarQ business “when the time is right”. The Respondent asserts that it does not work with domain name brokers, and that it typically ignores offers for the sale and purchase of the disputed domain name. The Respondent notes that the price referred to by the Complainant is different from that which was offered to the Respondent by a domain name broker.

The Respondent also notes that the Complainant and the Respondent are not competitors, that the Respondent is not attempting to impersonate the Complainant, and that the disputed domain name was not registered by the Respondent primarily to disrupt the Complainant’s business.

The Respondent requests the Panel to make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (“RDNH”), claiming that the facts of the case indicate that the Complaint was filed primarily to harass the Respondent after the Complainant was unsuccessful in purchasing the disputed domain name.

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1. Preliminary Matter: Identity of the Respondent

The Panel notes that the Response was filed by an entity under the name “Resaltar” of Indonesia who claims to be the registrant of the disputed domain name. Paragraph 1 of the Rules defines the “Respondent” as “the holder of a domain name against which a complaint is initiated”. The Panel sees no reason to depart from the position as set out in paragraph 3.7.7.3 of the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement, which states that a WhoIs-listed registrant (referred to as the “Registered Name Holder”) accepts liability for any use of the relevant domain name. The Panel has therefore proceeded to a decision identifying the Respondent as listed in the WhoIs record for the disputed domain name, as confirmed by the Registrar. In any event, the Panel notes that the Response was submitted via the email address listed in the WhoIs record for the disputed domain name, from which it can be inferred that the Respondent and “Resaltar” are effectively one and the same.

6.2. Substantive Matters

To obtain the transfer of the disputed domain name, the Complainant must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that it has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, namely:

(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 the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has provided evidence indicating that it has registered rights in the KAMARQ trademark, the details of which are provided in the factual background section above.

The disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s KAMARQ trademark in its entirety without addition or alteration, under the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”. The gTLD “.com” may be disregarded for the purposes of comparison under the first element, see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.11.1. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s KAMARQ trademark.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant’s case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name is built primarily on the basis that the disputed domain name redirects to a pornographic website, and that such use of the disputed domain name has not been authorized by the Complainant.

The Respondent, on the other hand, claims to have rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name on the basis that it intends to use the disputed domain name in connection with an accommodation website in Indonesia. In support of this claim, the Respondent provides evidence in support of a graphic‑design brief that appears to have been completed in October 2014, in connection with the development of design concepts based on the term “kamarq”. The Respondent denies redirecting the disputed domain name to any pornographic website.

The Panel notes that the Complainant has not provided any evidence in support of the alleged use of the disputed domain name. It is generally accepted that a UDRP panel may undertake limited factual research into matters of public record if it would consider such information useful in assessing the case merits and reaching a decision, see paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Rules, see also WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.8. The Panel has reviewed the archived screenshots of the disputed domain name available at “www.archive.org” and notes, as stated by the Complainant, that as recently as November 13, 2018 the disputed domain name did in fact redirect to a Japanese pornographic website.

Despite the Complainant’s obvious shortcomings in failing to provide evidence of the website to which the disputed domain name redirected at the time of filing the Complaint, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name was previously subject to redirection to a website of a pornographic nature. The fact that the disputed domain name is no longer subject to such redirection cannot be relied on by the Respondent to avoid responsibility for the previous use of the disputed domain name. The Panel finds that the Respondent’s assertions in this regard are misleading and do not accurately reflect the prior use of the disputed domain name, as reflected in the public record.

The Panel further finds the Respondent’s evidence in support of its claimed intention to use the disputed domain name in connection with an accommodation service to be of limited probative value. As noted in WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.2, such evidence may include (i) evidence of business formation-related due diligence/legal advice/correspondence, (ii) evidence of credible investment in website development or promotional materials, such as advertising, letterhead or business cards, (iii) proof of a genuine (i.e., not pretextual) business plan utilizing the domain name, and credible signs of pursuit of the business plan, (iv) bona fide registration and use of related domain names, and (v) other evidence generally pointing to a lack of indicia of cybersquatting intent. In the Panel’s view, the Respondent’s evidence, consisting of a single graphic-design brief from 2014, contains little evidence to support a finding that the Respondent has made demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Specifically, the design brief contains little to no evidence of the type of business for which the design elements are intended to be used. When viewed together with the use to which the disputed domain name has been put, i.e., to redirect to a pornographic website, as well as the Respondent’s lack of transparency regarding its use of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s evidence does not support a finding of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

However, noting the fundamental difficulty that the Complainant faces in relation to bad faith registration of the disputed domain name, the Panel has not found it necessary to come to a definitive conclusion under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires a complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Failure to prove one or the other will result in denial of the Complaint.

Prior UDRP panels have consistently held that where a respondent registers a domain name before the accrual of a complainant’s trademark rights absent exceptional circumstances, a complainant will be unable to prove bad faith registration of the disputed domain name. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.8.1.

The Complainant itself states that it was established in June 2014. The Complainant’s trademarks on which it relies in support of its claims against the Respondent were all filed subsequent to that date, the earliest of which was registered on May 31, 2016. Meanwhile, the case record shows that the disputed domain name was registered some 18 months prior to the date on which the Complainant was established and has not been used in such a way as to meet any of the factors enumerated under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy. The Complainant is unable to establish bad faith, therefore the Complaint must fail.

For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that the Complainant has failed to satisfy the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

D. Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (“RDNH”)

The Respondent requests that the Panel enter a finding of RDNH, alleging that the Complaint was brought in bad faith primarily to harass the Respondent subsequent to the Complainant’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase the disputed domain name.

Paragraph 1 of the Rules defines RDNH as “using the Policy in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain name holder of a domain name”. One of the reasons frequently cited by UDRP panels in finding RDNH includes filing a complaint after an unsuccessful attempt to acquire the disputed domain name from the respondent without a plausible legal basis, see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.16. The Panel has carefully reviewed the correspondence submitted in evidence and it appears that the Complainant was first contacted by a domain name broker in November 2017, with an unsolicited offer of assistance in acquiring the disputed domain name. While the Complainant may have been led to believe that the Respondent was at one point willing to sell the disputed domain name for an agreed price, and then repudiated on the agreement, there is no direct correspondence between the Parties that would support a finding that the Complaint was brought in bad faith following the Complainant’s dissatisfaction with the Respondent’s proposed sale price. In fact, the Respondent states that it never intended to sell the disputed domain name.

Notwithstanding the critical shortcomings in the Complainant’s case, particularly with regard to its lack of evidence as to the use of the disputed domain name, as well as the Complainant’s inability from the outset to prove bad faith, the Panel is not of the view that the Complaint was brought in bad faith or to harass. Noting that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark, and further noting the redirection of the disputed domain name to a pornographic website, the case record suggests that the Complaint was brought in a bona fide, if misguided, effort to protect the Complainant’s trademark. Although the Complaint failed under the third element, the Complainant may have reasonably believed, albeit erroneously, that the totality of the circumstances could lead to a finding of bad faith. At the same time, the Panel notes the Respondent’s lack of transparency as to the prior use of the disputed domain name.

For the reasons set out above, the Panel has determined not to make a finding of RDNH.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.

Jane Seager
Sole Panelist
Date: August 27, 2019