WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Beijing Zhizhetianxia Technology Co. LTD v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org / JANEYEE110, Jane Yee
Case No. D2019-2573
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Beijing Zhizhetianxia Technology Co. LTD, China, represented by Yusi Zhang, China.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org, United States of America / JANEYEE110, Jane Yee, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <zhihuvpn.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 21, 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 22, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on October 24, 2019 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on October 29, 2019.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 December 6, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 26, 2019. The Center received the Complainant’s communication on December 9, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 2, 2020.
The Center appointed Linda Chang as the sole panelist in this matter on January 9, 2020. 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 was established in 2011 in China and operates a question-and-answer website <zhihu.com>. Up to November 2018, the Complainant has 220 million registered users in its knowledge sharing site.
The Complainant is the owner of a number of ZHIHU and 知乎 trademark registrations, including but not limited to a ZHIHU trademark registered on April 7, 2016, (China No. 14616298A).
The Domain Name was registered on November 18, 2017. It was once resolved to a website posting several articles about Virtual Private Network (VPN) products, and is now resolving to a parking page at the time of the Panel preparing this Decision.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the main part of the Domain Name “zhihuvpn” is comprised by “zhihu” and ‘vpn’. The fact itself that the Domain Name wholly incorporates the ZHIHU trademark is sufficient to establish identity or confusing similarity for purposes of the Policy.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name due to:
a) the Complainant has never authorized or permitted the Respondent to use the ZHIHU trademark or register it as a domain name in any form, and there is no shareholding or investment between the Complainant and the Respondent, nor any sponsorship, cooperation, or business relationship;
b) there is no evidence proving the Respondent’s use of or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services;
c) the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers.
Lastly the Complainant contends that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. It is unreasonable for the Respondent to deny the knowledge of the Complainant or the ZHIHU trademark. The Respondent is intending to take advantage of the Complainant’s reputation to endorse the products it recommends. By using the Domain Name, 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 mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Based on the submitted evidence, the Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the registered trademark ZHIHU.
The Domain Name consists of “zhihu”, “vpn” and “.com”. “.com” is the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), both being generic terms. “zhihu” is the only distinctive component in the Doman Name.
The Panel agrees that the additional elements “vpn” and “.com” do not add any distinctive features to the Domain Name for purpose of the first element of the Policy since ZHIHU is wholly incorporated in the Domain Name and highly recognizable. The Panel therefore finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ZHIHU trademark.
Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is no indication that the Respondent demonstrated, before notice to it of the dispute, use of or demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. In fact, the website associated with the Domain Name was once used to introduce VPN products and now is a free parking page placed by the Registrar. The Panel finds that neither of the above can be considered as a bona fide use within the meaning of paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.
It is well-established that once a complainant establishes a prima facie case that a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, the burden of production shifts to the respondent. In the current case, the Panel holds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant and its ZHIHU trademark enjoy a high reputation in China. The Panel agrees that it is quite unlikely that the Respondent had no knowledge of the ZHIHU trademark at the time of registering the Domain Name. The Respondent’s reference of the Complainant’s Chinese trademark 知乎 on the associated website of the Domain Name further proves its awareness of the Complainant and the ZHIHU trademark at the time of registration. Such awareness is a clear indicator of bad faith registration.
The Complainant has introduced sufficient evidence to demonstrate the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name in bad faith, including using the Domain Name to host a website introducing VPN products. Given the reputation of the Complainant’s trademark in China, the Panel was convinced that the Respondent’s purpose of registering the Domain Name is to trade on the fame of the Complainant’s ZHIHU trademark, in order to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the corresponding website under the Domain Name, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant and the ZHIHU trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website.
The Panel therefore finds that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith and that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <zhihuvpn.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 23, 2020