WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

ICICI Bank Limited v. Domain Dmin, Transfer Discounter

Case No. D2020-2492

1. The Parties

The Complainant is ICICI Bank Limited, India, represented by AZB & Partners, India.

The Respondent is Domain Dmin, Transfer Discounter, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <icicibankltd.com> (hereafter the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Gransy, s.r.o. d/b/a subreg.cz (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 25, 2020. On September 25, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On September 30, 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 October 1, 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 October 2, 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 October 7, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 27, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 3, 2020.

The Center appointed Flip Jan Claude Petillion as the sole panelist in this matter on November 5, 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, ICICI Bank Limited, is a leading private sector bank in India. The Complainant is the holder of numerous trademarks, including the following:

- ICICI, United States (US) trademark registration No. 3716939, registered on November 24, 2009 in classes 9 and 36;

- ICICI, European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) registration No. 002907335, registered on April 16, 2004 in classes 9, 16, and 36;

- ICICI, Chinese trademark registration No. 4283292, applied for on September 23, 2004 and registered on July 7, 2008 in class 36;

- ICICI BANK, Indian trademark registration No. 1542208, registered on March 21, 2007 in classes 9, 16, and 36.

The Disputed Domain Name was registered on November 9, 2005 and is currently inactive. It appears that depending on the browser used, the Disputed Domain Name referred either to third party websites or to a parking page containing pay-per-click (PPC) links. According to evidence provided by the Complainant, some of these links were related to the Complainant’s banking and finance business.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to a trademark in which it claims to have rights. The Complainant further claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name. According to the Complainant, the Respondent has not used the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a legitimate use. Also, according to the Complainant, the Respondent is in no way affiliated with the Complainant. Finally, the Complainant claims that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant claims that the Respondent has registered the Disputed Domain Name primarily to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 15 of the Rules provides that the Panel is to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.

The onus is on the Complainant to make out its case and it is apparent, both from the terms of the Policy and the decisions of past UDRP panels, that the Complainant must show that all three elements set out in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been established before any order can be made to transfer the Disputed Domain Name. As the UDRP proceedings are administrative, the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.

Thus, for the Complainant to succeed it must prove, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, that:

(i) the Disputed Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(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.

The Panel will therefore deal with each of these requirements.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

To prove this element, the Complainant must first establish that there is a trademark or service mark in which it has rights. The Complainant has clearly established that there are trademarks in which it has rights. The Complainant’s ICICI and ICICI BANK trademarks have been registered and used in various countries in connection to the Complainant’s banking services.

The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s ICICI BANK trademark in its entirety, simply adding the letters “ltd” which is the common abbreviation for ”limited”, a form of corporate structure. Where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the Disputed Domain Name, the addition of other (descriptive) terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element (see section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”)).

Additionally, it is well established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) here, “.com” may be disregarded when considering whether the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

In light of the above, the Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ICICI and ICICI BANK trademarks.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name.

As established by previous UDRP panels, it is sufficient for the Complainant to make a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name in order to place the burden of production on the Respondent (see section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

The Panel notes that the Respondent does not appear to be commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and that the Respondent does not seem to have acquired trademark or service mark rights (there being no Response or evidence of any such rights). The Respondent’s use and registration of the Disputed Domain Name was not authorized by the Complainant. There are no indications that a connection between the Complainant and the Respondent exists.

Where a domain name consists of a trademark plus an additional term, UDRP panels have largely held that such composition cannot constitute fair use if it effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark owner (see section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0). The Disputed Domain Name incorporates the Complainant’s ICICI trademark as well as the ICICI BANK trademark and simply adds the letters “ltd”, which is a common abbreviation for ”limited”, a form of corporate structure. ICICI Bank Limited is also the company name of the Complainant. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name carries a high risk of implied affiliation with the Complainant and cannot constitute fair use.

Beyond looking at the domain name and the nature of any additional terms appended to it, UDRP panels assess whether the overall facts and circumstances of the case, such as the content of the website linked to the disputed domain name and the absence of a response, support a fair use or not (see sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

In this case, the Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name. It appears that depending on the browser used, the Disputed Domain Name referred to either third party websites or to a parking page containing PPC links. According to evidence provided by the Complainant, some of these links related to the Complainant’s banking and finance business.

The Panel finds that such sponsored links may capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the Complainant’s mark or mislead Internet users, which cannot be considered as a fair use of the Disputed Domain Name (see section 2.9 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

The Respondent had the opportunity to demonstrate his rights or legitimate interests but did not do so. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, the prima facie case established by the Complainant has not been rebutted.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.

In light of the above, the Complainant succeeds on the second element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities both that the Disputed Domain Name was registered in bad faith and that it is being used in bad faith (see section 4.2 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, for example, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 and Control Techniques Limited v. Lektronix Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2006-1052).

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exclusive list of factors, any one of which may demonstrate bad faith. Among these factors demonstrating bad faith registration and use is the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a 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 website or location or of a product or service on the website or location.

In the present case, the Panel finds that it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant and its trademark rights when it registered the Disputed Domain Name. The Disputed Domain Name includes the Complainant’s distinctive ICICI trademark in its entirety, and adds the terms “bank”, which refers to the Complainant’s business and is covered by the Complainant’s ICICI BANK trademark. The Disputed Domain Name also adds the descriptive abbreviation “ltd”, which clearly refers to the Complainant’s company name. In the Panel’s view, the Respondent’s awareness of the Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of registration suggests bad faith (see Red Bull GmbH v. Credit du Léman SA, Jean-Denis Deletraz, WIPO Case No. D2011-2209; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Serena, Axel, WIPO Case No. D2006-0007, where it was held that the respondent acted in bad faith when registering the disputed domain name, because widespread and long-standing advertising and marketing of goods and services under the trademarks in question, the inclusion of the entire trademark in the domain name, and the similarity of products implied by addition of a telecommunications services suffix (“voip”) suggested knowledge of the complainant’s rights in the trademarks).

The Panel observes that the Disputed Domain Name either referred to third party websites or to a parking page containing PPC links, some of which related to the Complainant’s banking and finance business. While the intention to earn click-through-revenue is not in itself illegitimate, the Panel finds that the use of the Disputed Domain Name that is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark (as is the case here) to obtain click-through-revenue constitutes bad faith use (see Mpire Corporation v. Michael Frey, WIPO Case No. D2009-0258; L’Oréal, Biotherm, Lancôme Parfums et Beauté & Cie v. Unasi, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2005-0623). The fact that the PPC links may be automatically generated by a third party cannot discharge the Respondent of any responsibility for the content appearing on the website connected to the Disputed Domain Name under its control (see section 3.5 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).

In any event, the combination of the ICICI and ICICI BANK marks with a descriptive term referring to the Complainant’s company name makes it difficult to conceive any plausible legitimate future use of the Disputed Domain Name by the Respondent.

By failing to respond to the Complaint, the Respondent did not take any initiative to contest the foregoing. Pursuant to paragraph 14 of the Rules, the Panel may draw the conclusions it considers appropriate.

Therefore, the Panel finds that, on the balance of probabilities, it is sufficiently shown that the Disputed Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In light of the above, the Complainant also succeeds on the third and last element of the Policy.

7. 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 <icicibankltd.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Flip Jan Claude Petillion
Sole Panelist
Date: November 17, 2020