WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
NetBet Enterprises Ltd v. Global Domain Privacy Services Inc. / Tilok Nokar
Case No. D2020-0048
1. The Parties
The Complainant is NetBet Enterprises Ltd, Malta, represented by SafeNames Ltd., United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Global Domain Privacy Services Inc., Panama / Tilok Nokar, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <netbets.website> is registered with URL Solutions, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 10, 2020. On January 13, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 14, 2020, 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 January 14, 2020 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 January 16, 2020.
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 January 20, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 9, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 11, 2020.
The Center appointed Martin Michaus Romero as the sole panelist in this matter on February 18, 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
(1) The Complainant is the operator of the NETBET brand: an online gaming and Casino Company which has received much recognition internationally.
(2) The Complainant was founded in 2001; it is licensed and regulated by the Great Britain Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority.
(3) The Complainant offers a variety of games, including skill-based games such as poker. All games offered under the NETBET brand are intended to be entertaining, attractive, and use flash technology to provide the most up-to-date graphics. It also offers an app which features more than 30 games and enables consumers to use the popular NETBET services on the move. It has been subject to many awards, including but not limited to the award for “Best Overall Sports Betting Operator at SEEGA 2016”.
(4) The Complainant has offered over 450 state-of-the-art casino games and became a market leader within the online casino and betting industries.
(5) The Complainant has international and cross-border renown, supported by the fact that its website is available in multiple languages, including but not limited to French, Spanish, Italian and English.
(6) The Complainant owns several trademark registrations for NETBET in multiple jurisdictions, including a European Union Trademark for NETBET registered on May 16, 2012.
(7) The Complainant also uses the trademark NETBET in many of its domain names, including but not limited to <netbet.com>, <netbet.co.uk>, <netbet.ro> and <netbet.it>.
(8) The “NETBET” brand is being listed as the 12th most visited bookmaker in a list of “top 100 online bookmakers”.
(9) The disputed domain name was registered on June 24, 2019.
(10) The website in relation to the disputed domain name hosts a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising page which contains links thematically similar to the Complainant’s expertise.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states in its Complaint that the Respondent:
(1) Registered the disputed domain name which is confusingly similar with the trademark NETBET without the Complainant knowledge or authorization.
(2) Registered the disputed domain name which includes the trademark NETBET to create confusion among the consumers.
(3) Considering the complete reproduction of the trademark NETBET in the disputed domain name, it is likely to intend to confuse potential customers; therefore, it can be inferred that the disputed domain name was selected and is being used by the Respondent not for bona fide business purposes but rather to mislead Internet users.
(4) In summary, in this Complaint, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark NETBET. The Respondent has not rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name which was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the Panel is to use in determining the dispute: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
Considering that the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions, in order to determine whether the Complainant has met its burden as stated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel bases its Decision on the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy and the Rules.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has submitted evidence of its rights in the NETBET trademark.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark NETBET. The disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademark NETBET in its entirety, together with an extra “s” at the end of it, which does not prevent a finding of confusingly similarity.
Likewise, the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix, “.website”, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the NETBET trademark because it is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is disregarded under the first element confusing similarity test.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not received permission or authorization to use the Complainant’s trademark, and does not have any trademark rights (registered or unregistered) to “netbet” nor “netbets”.
The Respondent did not substantively reply to the Complainant’s contentions, and therefore has not provided any evidence to demonstrate anything to the contrary. It should be pointed out that nothing in the available record indicates that the Respondent is an individual, business, or corporation known by the name “netbets”.
Furthermore, the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor for a legitimate or noncommercial fair use that might give rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The website currently hosts a PPC advertising page which contains links thematically similar to the Complainant´s expertise. Some of this links feature competitive brands or redirect to websites owned by competitors of the Complainant.
There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or owned a trademark or is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
According to the evidence submitted by the Complainant and on the absence of a Response, the Panel finds that the registration and the use of the disputed domain name has been in bad faith, by including the NETBET trademark in the disputed domain name, the Respondent seeks to intentionally attract Internet users for commercial gain.
With the mere addition of the gTLD “.website” to the disputed domain name, Internet users are likely to be led to believe that the disputed domain name is operated by or affiliated to the Complainant.
The Respondent has demonstrated, by registering the disputed domain name which reproduces the Complainant’s name and mark, a vicious intent to capitalize on the goodwill of the Complainant’s trademark.
Furthermore, the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other websites by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s NETBET trademark. These activities constitute, in view of the Panel, clear evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent ignored a cease and desist letter sent by the Complainant’s representatives on September 10, 2019. This infers bad faith behavior. Likewise, the use of PPC links by the Respondent on the website related to the disputed domain name, constitutes a clear attempt to generate a commercial gain particularly by misleading online users with the disputed domain name and subsequently redirecting those online users to third party websites, which are on competition with the Complainant.
The above creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation and/or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. This also negatively affects the Complainant’s online presence and disrupts the Complainant’s business. See paragraphs 4(b)(iv) and 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies 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 <netbets.website> be transferred to the Complainant.
Martin Michaus Romero
Date: March 3, 2020