WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd. v. Shomprakash Sinha Roy

Case No. D2019-2567

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd., India, represented by Samvad Partners, India.

The Respondent is Shomprakash Sinha Roy, India.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <hdfc.loans> 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 October 18, 2019. On October 21, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 21, 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 Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on October 31, 2019.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 November 4, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 24, 2019. Four email communications from the Respondent were received by the Center on October 21, 22 and 30, 2019. No further Response was submitted. The Center notified the Parties that it would proceed to panel appointment on November 29, 2019.

The Center appointed Shwetasree Majumder as the sole panelist in this matter on December 4, 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, a housing finance company, was established in the year 1977 and claims to have assisted more than 7 million families to own a home of their own.

The Complainant’s claims to be a financial conglomerate with presence in banking, life insurance, non-life insurance, asset management, real estate fund, real estate and finance.

The Complainant also claims to be associated closely with the World Bank, USAID, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations (U.N.) and the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) and to have undertaken consultancy assignments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Bhutan, Nepal, Ghana, Egypt, Thailand, Philippines, Jamaica, and the Russian Federation to establish their own housing finance institutions.

The Complainant is the owner of multiple trademark registrations for the trademark HDFC both on a standalone basis or in combination with other terms and/or figurative elements. The list of the registered trademarks held by the Complainant includes the Indian trademark No. 1247054, registered on October 31, 2003 (Annex 4 to the Complaint).

The Complainant also owns approximately 223 domain names, the vast majority of which incorporate the words “hdfc” and many of which incorporate the words “hdfc” and “loans” in conjunction with each other. A table showing the complete listing of the domain names owned by the Complainant is attached as Annex 10 to the Complaint.

The disputed domain name was registered on October 13, 2019. As it is set out from a perusal of Annex 14, 16, 17, and 18, attached to the Complaint, the Respondent is a “domainer” who through the website of “www.indianbrands.xyz” (of which he is the CEO) is engaged in the business of purchasing and reselling premium domain names to other businesses. A copy of the website of “www.indianbrands.xyz”, attached as Annex 17 to the Complaint, also shows that the disputed domain name is listed for sale at the price of INR 35 lakhs under the heading “Dot XYZ”.

Further, a perusal of the email communication dated October 21, 2019 was received by the Center from the Respondent. It also appears that the disputed domain name was redirecting to the Complainant’s website at “www.hdfc.com/housing-loans”.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant relies on multiple trademark registrations for the mark HDFC as also multiple domain names that it owns, where “hdfc” is the dominant part of the domain name, to assert its proprietorship over the trademark/acronym HDFC. The Complainant also relies on its ownership of the Top-Level Domain (“TLD”) “.hdfc” (a copy of the Registrant Agreement for the “.hdfc” TLD between ICANN and the Complainant has been attached as Annex 12 to the Complaint) in support of this assertion.

The Complainant contends that it has been recognised as a ‘Superbrand’ by Superbrandsindia.com. (See, Annex 5 to the Complaint). The Complainant states that it has also been recognised by Business Today’s BT500 Index as India’s 6th most valuable company in 2018 (See, Annex 6 to the Complaint) and has been ranked 37th in Dunn & Bradstreet’s compilation of India’s Top 500 Companies in 2018 (See, Annex 7 to the Complaint). The Complainant states it has also been listed in the Economic Times list of India’s Best Companies to work for (See, Annex 8 to the Complaint) and has also been ranked 332nd in Forbes Asia’s list of the World’s Biggest Companies (See, Annex 9 to the Complaint).

The Complainant relies on Advance Magazine Publishers Inc., Les Publications Conde Nast S.A. v. Voguechen, WIPO Case No. D2014-0657 to contend that in cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark, or where at least a dominant feature of the relevant mark is recognizable in the domain name, the domain name will normally be consideredconfusingly similar to that mark for purposes of UDRP standing.

The Complainant in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, states that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.

In relation to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s email communication to the Complainant via Annex 16, dated October 16, 2019, states that he is the CEO of Indianbrands.xyz. At no point in the Respondent’s communications with the Complainant did the Respondent ever indicate that the Respondent had a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name or that the Respondent had a use of, or indicated any demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Complainant states that a cached copy of the website of “www.indianbrands.xyz” attached as Annex 17 to the Complainant also reveals that under the heading “Dot XYZ”, the disputed domain name is listed for sale at the price of INR 35 lakhs. Accordingly, the Complainant claims that it is clear that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name and has instead purchased the disputed domain name with the clear intent of commercial gain and to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademark HDFC of the Complainant.

The Complainant contends that the registration of the disputed domain name on October 13, 2019, and the immediate offer for sale by way of an email dated October 14, 2019, by the Respondent establishes that the Respondent did not use the disputed domain name and had no interest in the legitimate use of the disputed domain name in the future as well. The Complainant states that the sole intent of the registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent was to resell the disputed domain name.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.loans” naturally suggests that the Respondent is in the business of providing financial services such as loans. However, the Respondent has no relationship with the Complainant and/or its trademarks, including the trademark HDFC and therefore has no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The Complainant being the rightful owner of the trademark HDFC and in fact being engaged in the business of providing financial services, the use of the disputed domain name and the gTLD “.loans” read together is naturally, bound to deceive one to believe that the disputed domain name belongs to the Complainant.

Lastly under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant states that it is apparent from the WhoIs search records that the disputed domain name was registered on October 13, 2019, and that on the subsequent day i.e. October 14, 2019, the Respondent contacted the Complainant by email and informed the Complainant of his registration of the disputed domain name and urged the Complainant to purchase the disputed domain name from him. The Respondent in the said email stated that, in the event that the Complainant failed to purchase the disputed domain name from him before the October 18, 2019, he would sell it to a third party who could be a competitor of the Complainant, a shadow lender (who may pass off as the Complainant), or any person who would mark up the price of the disputed domain name and force the Complainant to pay a higher sum to acquire the disputed domain name (Annex 13 to the Complaint).

The Respondent followed this up the above email communication on October 15, 2019, and on October 16, 2019. The Complainant contends that the Respondent at all times has made it clear that the Respondent’s intent was to sell, rent, or otherwise transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant or to any other person for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not registered the disputed domain name with any intent to ever use it but with the sole intent to extort money from the Complainant, who is the rightful owner of the trademark which has been used in the disputed domain name, by way of threats of selling it to third parties who may use it in a manner which would disrepute the Complainant. The Complainant reiterates that the disputed domain name has been offered for sale on the Respondent’s website “www.indianbrands.xyz” for sale at the price of INR 35 lakhs which makes it evident that the disputed domain name was registered only for making commercial gains and to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademarks of the Complainant.

The Complainant states that the Respondent is a cybersquatter who has an established pattern of registering domain names which infringe the trademark rights of businesses in order to sell it to them or to a third party which may disrepute the rightful owner of the trademark and cause deception and confusion with regard to the true owner of the trademark. The Complainant places reliance on a previous UDRP decision Bundl Technologies Private Limited v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Shomprakash Sinha Ro, WIPO Case No. D2018-2166 (See, Annex 19 to the Complaint).

B. Respondent

Apart from the four email communications that were received by the Center from the Respondent on October 21, 22, and 30, 2019, no formal Response has been received from the Respondent in reply to the Complainant’s contentions. The Respondent’s assertions in the said emails are summarized below:

a) “hdfc.loans” is not a registered trademark inclusive of the dot. HDFC is also not a dictionary word. It’s a four-letter acronym. The disputed domain name was legally purchased by the Respondent from GoDaddy.com as a four-letter generic “.loans” name. The phrase “hdfc” has not been marked under the domain protected marks list, which means that people are at a liberty to buy such domain names with other extensions too.

b) The disputed domain name has not been used in bad faith by the Respondent as it redirects to the Complainant’s website “www.hdfc.com/housing-loans” and therefore the Complainant’s brand does not suffer.

c) The Complainant’s representative first tried to covertly get a quote from the Respondent as regards the disputed domain name using her personal email address misleading him into believing that that a different company, Paisabazaar.com (an HDFC partner), was trying to buy the disputed domain name and then went radio silent on communications after the Respondent revealed that he would not encourage domain name squatting and would not sell the disputed domain name to any third party apart from the Complainant or a registered partner. The Respondent had also informed the Complainant’s representative that he had been in touch with key officials from the Complainant’s company to facilitate an amicable transfer of the disputed domain name. Screenshots of the said email communications dated October 17 and 18, 2019 as exchanged between the Respondent and the Complainant’s representative have also been reproduced by the Respondent in his communications with the Center.

d) When the Complainant couldn’t legitimately buy the disputed domain name or respond to the Respondent, the Complainant’s representative was used as a decoy to place a bid to the Respondent using a private identification (“ID”) which was a deceptive practice. The Complainant including its representatives had been wrongly stalling by saying that they were in the process of connecting the Respondent with right team to facilitate the purchase of his legitimately held the disputed domain name and that the filing of the UDRP proceedings consequently by the Complainant and its representatives is clearly a manifestation of corporate bullying - a tactic of not paying the fair price for the disputed domain name. The Respondent claims that the Complainant was employing a reverse domain name hijacking to get out of a legitimate domain transaction that had been initiated as an offer by the Complainant’s representative.

6. Discussion and Findings

As noted above, the Respondent had not furnished any formal Response to the Complainant’s allegations within the stipulated time period. According to paragraph 14(a) of the Rules, where there is a failure by the Respondent to provide a Response to the allegations of the Complainant, as in the present case where the Response had to be filed by November 24, 2019, the Panel in accordance with paragraph 14(b) shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate. In consideration of the said fact, the Panel could have inferred that the Complainant’s allegations are true. The Panel has perused the entire correspondence exchanged between the Center, the Complainant and the Respondent and notes that the Respondent with his emails dated October 21, 22, and 30, 2019 had submitted an early response, however no formal Response was filed by him after the amendment to the Complaint on October 31, 2019, and the commencement of the UDRP proceedings on November 4, 2019.

Under paragraph 10(d) of the Rules, the Panel is empowered to determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of the evidence. In pursuance of the general powers and responsibilities of the Panel as have been set out in paragraph 10(b) of the Rules, that each party be treated equally and be given a fair opportunity to present its case, the Panel has reviewed and considered the above-mentioned email communications of the Respondent in the interest of completeness of record and to ensure procedural fairness between parties. See, AT&T Corp. v. Randy Thompson, WIPO Case No. D2001-0830; Facebook Inc. v. Jeremy Williams, 3 Man Group, WIPO Case No. D2019-1535.

Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove, each of the following three elements required under by a preponderance of evidence:

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

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights. Further, a trademark registration provides a clear indication that the rights in the trademark belong to the Complainant. See, WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition, (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.2.1 .

The Panel notes that the Complainant’s trademark HDFC is not a word or phrase but rather an acronym/invented term that has been derived from the initial letters of the Complainant’s corporate name, Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd and is associated with the services of the Complainant.

The Complainant has furnished evidence of its rights in the trademark HDFC and owns multiple trademark registrations for the same in India, the earliest of which dates to the year 2000 (Registration No. 965387 dated October 20, 2000, in class 16) well before the Respondent registered the disputed domain name on October 13, 2019. Valid and subsisting trademark registrations constitute prima facie evidence of ownership, validity and the exclusive right to the use the said trademark in connection with the stated goods and services (See, Microsoft Corporation v. J. Holiday Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-1493).

According to the evidence furnished by the Complainant as Annex 10 to the Complaint, it is also the registrant of a large number of domain names comprising the trademark HDFC, vast majority of which incorporate the word “hdfc”, and many of which incorporate the words “hdfc” and “loans” in conjunction with each other. The Panel has independently visited the Internet in order to obtain additional light on the said matter which power of the Panel has been read into paragraph 10(a) of the Rules by previous UDRP decisions. See, Société des Produits Nestlé SA v. Telmex Management Services, WIPO Case No. D2002-0070; InfoSpace.com, Inc. v. Hari Prakash, WIPO Case No. D2000-0076.

The Panel observes that the domain names of the Complainant incorporating the trademark HDFC and more specifically those incorporating the trademark HDFC and the dictionary term “loans” had all been registered by the Complainant, much prior to the date of registration of the disputed domain name on October 13, 2019.

The Panel observes that the disputed domain name incorporates the registered trademark HDFC of the Complainant. Previous UDRP panels have ruled that fully incorporating an identical mark in a disputed domain name as the Complainant’s trademark is sufficient to establish that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant in which it has rights. See, Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903, and Magnum Piering, Inc. v. The Mudjackers and Garwood S. Wilson, Sr., WIPO Case No. D2000-1525.

The disputed domain name contains the trademark HDFC in its entirety and simply adds the TLD “.loans”. The Panel observes that WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.7, states that “in cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark, or where at least a dominant feature of the relevant mark is recognizable in the domain name, the domain name will normally be considered confusingly similar to that mark for purposes of UDRP standing”.

Further it is noted by the Panel that WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.8. also sets out that “[w]here the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element.”

Accordingly, the inclusion of the TLD “.loans” provide no distinction.

In view of the above-mentioned findings, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy stands satisfied.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The view of previous UDRP panels on the burden of proof under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been summarized in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, which states: “[…] where a Complainant makes out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the Respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”

According to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the Respondent may demonstrate its rights to 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 Panel has perused the entire correspondence exchanged between the Center, the Complainant and the Respondent dated October 21, 22, and 30, 2019, the annexures furnished by the Complainant and has also conducted independent Internet searches to arrive at the following conclusions:

i. The Complainant is the registered proprietor and owner of the trademark HDFC, rights in respect of which have accrued in the Complainant’s favour, long prior to the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name on October 13, 2019. The Complainant has demonstrated that it holds a number of trademark registrations for its HDFC and HDFC formative trademarks and also owns several domain names comprising the trademark HDFC as also the words “hdfc” and “loans”, all of which predate the date of registration of the disputed domain name on September 13, 2019.

ii. The Respondent’s name as per the information disclosed by the Registrar is one Mr. Shomprakash Sinha Roy of Koramangala who is neither commonly known by the trademark HDFC nor carrying on business under the disputed domain name . The Panel observes that the Respondent in its email communication to the Complainant on October 15, 2019, (See, Annex 14 to the Complaint), represented himself as Indianbrands.xyz - a Go Daddy reseller that owns and manages premium domain inventory of GoDaddy.com. Further, the signature tabs of the said email also indicate that the Respondent is an author, marketing manager and a social media specialist.

The Complainant has furnished credible evidence illustrating the national and global recognition of its brand/trademark HDFC and the same have been attached as Annex 5-9 to the Complaint. However, a mere perusal of the email attached as Annex 14 to the Complaint reveals that the Respondent was fully aware of the rights of the Complainant in its trademark HDFC and the services being offered by it under the said brand/trademark and in fact was offering to sell and transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant at a price, given its value as a domain name to the Complainant. Further, in the Respondent’s email attached as Annex 16 to the Complaint, the Respondent stated that he was the CEO of Indianbrands.xyz and that the disputed domain name was being held by him in escrow till October 18, 2019, so that the Complainant could purchase the same before it was released for public same. The Panel finds that even in its email dated October 18, 2019, addressed by the Respondent to the Complainant’s representative, the value of the disputed domain name for the Complainant had been recognized by the Respondent. At no point in the Respondent’s communications with the Complainant did the Respondent ever indicate that the Respondent had a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name or that the Respondent had a use of, or indicated any demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. (See, paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy).

iii. A mere perusal of the extracts of the website of Indianbrands.xyz of the Respondent, attached as Annex 17 to the Complaint reveals that the disputed domain name is listed for sale at the price of INR 35 lakhs. As per the Respondent’s own admission, in its email dated October 21, 2019, the disputed domain name redirected to the Complainant’s website “www.hdfc.com/housing-loans”. The Panel thus observes that it is clear that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial of the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy (See, PayPal Inc. v. Jon Shanks, WIPO Case No. D2014-0888). It seems evident to the Panel that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name with the clear intent of commercial gain and to misleadingly divert consumers and tarnish the reputation and goodwill associated with the trademark HDFC to the Complainant.

iv. There can no plausible reason or explanation for the Respondent to have adopted the Complainant’s registered trademark HDFC as a part of the disputed domain name, more so as the said trademark of the Complainant is an acronym/invented term derived from the initial letters of the Complainant’s corporate name. The Panel observes that the Complainant’s trademark HDFC has no established meaning or generic value but as a well-established brand and is distinctive only of the Complainant and its services. The Panel notes that the Complainant has no nexus, relationship with the Complainant and/or its trademark HDFC. The disputed domain name being confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and the TLD “.loans” is bound to deceive unsuspecting customers into believing that the Respondent is in the business of providing financial services such as loans. The Respondent therefore does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

v. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on October 13, 2019, and immediately offered it for sale to the Complainant by way of an email dated October 14, 2019 which establishes that the Respondent did not use the disputed domain name and had no interest in its legitimate use in the future as well. The sole intent of the registration of the disputed domain name was to resell the disputed domain name to the Complainant. The Respondent therefore does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Accordingly, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant must show that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii)). Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy further provides circumstances that may prove bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

According to section 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, the mere registration of a domain name that is identical to a famous or widely known trademark by an unaffiliated entity can by itself create a presumption of bad faith. The disputed domain name incorporates the trademark in its entirety and the TLD “.loans” thereby giving a false impression that the website hosted on the disputed domain name is authorized, licensed, affiliated or connected to the Complainant.

According to the Policy, bad faith is understood to occur where a respondent takes unfair advantage of or otherwise abuses a complainant’s trademark. See, Section 3.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.

Previous UDRP panels have consistently found that it ought to be presumed that the Respondent had constructive notice of the Complainant’s trademark if it is shown by the Complainant to be well-known or in wide use on the Internet or otherwise. Such knowledge of the Respondent is an indicator of bad faith on its part in having registered the disputed domain name. See, Research In Motion Limited v. Privacy Locked LLC/Nat Collicot, WIPO Case No. D2009-0320, and The Gap, Inc. v. Deng Youqian, WIPO Case No. D2009-0113.

In the backdrop of the Complainant’s extensive use, widespread business and numerous trademark and domain name registrations in India, coupled with the fact that the Respondent and the Complainant are both located in India, the Panel finds it clear that the Respondent ought to have constructive notice of the rights of the Complainant in its registered and reputed trademark HDFC at the time of registration of the disputed domain name.

More specifically the Panel notes that the disputed domain name had been registered on October 13, 2019 (See, Annex 1 to the Complaint), right after which on October 14, 2019, it had addressed an email to the Complainant urging it to purchase the disputed domain name from him. The Panel notes that the Respondent in the said email had also indicated that in the event, the Complainant failed to purchase the disputed domain name from him before October 18, 2019, the same would be released for public sale and could be purchased by a competitor or a shadow lender or tertiary loan agencies who may pass off the disputed domain name as the Complainant, or any person who would mark up the price of the disputed domain name and force the Complainant to pay a higher sum to acquire the same. (See, Annex 13 to the Complaint).

The Panel observes that in all subsequent email communications of the Respondent to the Complainant on October 15, 2019 and on October 16, 2019, the Respondent had made it clear that the Respondent’s intent was to sell, rent, or otherwise transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant or to any other person for valuable consideration. (See, Annex 14 and 16 to the Complaint). The disputed domain name had also been listed on the Respondent’s website for sale at the price of INR 35 lakhs, which is in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name.

It is evident from the contents of the above-mentioned correspondence between the Respondent and the Complainant and the contents of the Respondent’s website that the Respondent was well aware of the rights of the Complainant in the trademark HDFC and the goodwill and reputation associated with the same. The Panel finds that the Respondent had registered the same in bad faith as per paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy.

The redirection of the disputed domain name by the Respondent to the Complainant’s website, “www.hdfc.com/housing-loans” clearly illustrates that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that the same had been adopted and was being used by the Respondent only in reference to the Complainant’s trademark HDFC in bad faith. In the Panel’s view, the admission by the Respondent of trying to sell the disputed domain name to the owner of the trademark, and then redirecting it to the website of the Complainant’s website is evidence of cybersquatting.

The Panel has also perused the previous UDRP decision, Bundl Technologies Private Limited v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Shomprakash Sinha Ro, WIPO Case No. D2018-2166 relied upon by the Complainant and finds merit in its contention that the Respondent is a cybersquatter who is engaged in a pattern and practice of registering and using in bad faith domain names corresponding to the well-known trade names and/or marks of third parties.

Accordingly, having regard to the circumstances of this particular case, the Panel finds that the conditions stipulated under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy also stand fulfilled.

7. Reverse Domain Name Hijacking

In light of the discussion above, the Panel holds that there is no merit in the contentions of the Respondent that the Complainant had employed a reverse domain name hijack by instituting UDRP proceedings to get out of a legitimate domain transaction that had been initiated as an offer by the Complainant’s representative with the Respondent as regards the disputed domain name as the same is devoid of any merit.

8. Decision

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 <hdfc.loans> be transferred to the Complainant.

Shwetasree Majumder
Sole Panelist
Date: December 24, 2019