WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Advanced New Technologies Co., Ltd. v. Domain Privacy Service FBO Registrant, The Endurance International Group, Inc. / Nathan Tomlinson, Blue Fountain Media Group
Case No. D2020-3020
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Advanced New Technologies Co., Ltd., United Kingdom, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Domain Privacy Service FBO Registrant, The Endurance International Group, Inc., United States of America (“United States”) / Nathan Tomlinson, Blue Fountain Media Group, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <antgroupipo.com> is registered with FastDomain, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 13, 2020. On November 13, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 13, 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 November 16, 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 November 18, 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 November 20, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 10, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response.
The Center appointed Clive Duncan Thorne as the sole panelist in this matter on December 28, 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 is a subsidiary of Ant Group Co.Ltd., the parent company of the Ant Financial Group. Formerly known as Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co. Ltd, it officially changed its name to Ant Group Co. Ltd in July 2020.
The Complainant was established in October 2014 and is a technology company headquartered in Hangzhou, China. It is the highest valued fintech company in the world. Its claimed mission is to create the infrastructure and platform to support the digital transformation of the service industry, and to enable all consumers and small businesses to have equal access to financial and other services that are “inclusive, green and sustainable”, through technology.
The Complainant and its affiliates have operated the Alipay platform since October 2014. It is an online payment service, “www.alipay.com”, which was launched in 2004. It is the world’s leading third-party payment platform and includes partnerships with more than 250 financial institutions including banks and credit/debit card providers in Hong Kong, Mainland China and internationally. Together with local e-wallet partners, the Alipay platform serves over 1 billion users in 55 countries and regions providing payment solutions for hundreds of thousands of third-party merchants covering a wide range of industries such as online purchases, digital communications, commercial services, air ticketing and utilities.
The Complainant also provides other financial products and services including online lending and banking (MyBank), the world’s largest money-market fund (Yu’e Bao ), credit-rating (Zhima Credit) and consumer financing (Huabei). It also provides a variety of products and services under its ANT brand including wealth management (Ant Fortune), blockchain services (AntChain) and green initiatives (Ant Forest). Further details are set out on its website accessed at “https://www.antgroup.com”. Extracts from the Complainant’s website are exhibited as Annex 5.
The Complainant exhibits at Annex 1 print outs of trade mark registrations for marks containing or consisting of ANT owned by it in trade mark registries in Hong Kong (HKIPD), EU (EUIPO), Australia (IPAU), and Singapore (IPOS).
The Complainant has also set out in the Complaint the relevant marks and applications upon which it relies including;
ANT – Hong Kong No. 302835955 registered December 12, 2012.
ANT– Hong Kong No. 303805993 registered June 14, 2014.
ANT – EU No. 012499968 registered September 7, 2018.
ANT– Australia No. 1601088 registered January 15, 2014.
ANT– Singapore No. T14006461 registered January 15, 2014.
ANT FINANCIAL plus device – Hong Kong No. 303061124 registered July 9, 2014.
ANT GROUP plus device – Hong Kong application No. 305351120 filed August 4, 2020.
ANT– US application No. 90139232 filed August 26, 2020.
ANT – US application No. 90139302 filed August 26, 2020.
All of these registrations and applications predate the date of registration of the disputed domain name on October 25, 2020. The disputed domain name resolved to page displaying “403 Forbidden Error”.
The Complainant also controls over 200 domain name registrations containing the mark ANT including its primary domain name <antgroup.com>.
The Complainant states that its ANT marks are well recognized and respected worldwide and in its industrial sphere of activity. It confirms that it has made significant investment to advertise and promote the ANT marks worldwide in media and internet.
In the absence of a Response the Panel finds the above evidence adduced by the Complainant to be true. It proceeds to determine the Complaint on that basis.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits;
(i). that on the evidence it has trade mark rights in ANT and ANT GROUP and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to those marks;
(ii). that on the evidence the Respondent is not authorized to use or commonly known by the disputed domain name and has no rights or legitimate interest in it;
(iii). that the Respondent should be considered to have known of the existence of the Complainant’s marks and that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name for launching a phishing attack and to fraudulently pose as the Complainant for that purpose.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Having considered the evidence of the Complainant’s trade mark registrations and applications the Panel finds that the Complainant has registered rights in the mark ANT in the jurisdictions referred to above and that it trades worldwide using ANT and the domain name <antgroup.com>. It has also filed applications for the trade mark ANT GROUP plus devices in Hong Kong.
The Complainant points out that the Respondent has added the terms “group” and “ipo” to the mark ANT in creating the disputed domain name and that this makes it confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark ANT. It refers to the Hong Kong applications for registration of the ANT GROUP logo before the date of registration of the domain name and also that the Complainant’s primary domain name incorporates “antgroup”.
It submits that “ipo” is a common abbreviation for “initial public offering”. It adduces evidence at Annex 7 of the fact that in July 2020, it announced that it had commenced the process of a concurrent IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges and subsequently announced the launch of the IPOs in October 2020 which was in the same month as the date of registration of the disputed domain name.
It is well-established, see for example section 1.8 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) which states that “where 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”. That is the position here. The trade mark ANT is clearly recognizable within the domain name and is the distinctive and dominant feature of the domain name.
The Complainant also points out that on the evidence set out in Annex 3 the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to redirect users to a website which attempts to represent, contrary to the fact, that it is offering unsuspecting users access to the Complainant’s IPO. The Panel agrees that this affirms the finding of confusing similarity.
The Panel therefore finds within Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trade mark ANT in which the Complainant has registered rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complaint submits that the Respondent is not sponsored by or affiliated with the Complainant in any way. It confirms that the Complainant has not permitted, licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its marks ANT in any manner.
Moreover there is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name at any time. The Complainant points out that the pertinent WhoIs information identifies the registrant of the domain name as a privacy service i.e., DOMAIN PRIVACY SERVICE FBO REGISTRANT /THE ENDURANCE INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC. which does not resemble the domain name in any way. It has been established in previous panel decisions that the Respondent’s use of a privacy service can be found to equate to a lack of legitimate interest. See, for example; Jackson National Life Insurance Company v, Private WhoIs wwwjacksonnationallife.com N4892, WIPO Case No. D2011-1855.
The evidence of the Respondent’s website set out at Annex 3 makes it clear that the Respondent was intentionally attempting to deceive and attract unsuspecting users to the website by misrepresenting that it was the Complainant’s website. The Panel takes into account the flagrant use by the Respondent on the website of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s and Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s logos on the website, which would inevitably cause confusion between the Respondent and Complainant.
The Complainant cites the WIPO Overview 3.0 at section 2.13.1 to the effect that “panels have categorically held that the use of a domain name for illegal activity can never confer rights or legitimate interests on a respondent”.
Similarly, it follows from the evidence that the Respondent’s inclusion of the Complainant’s ANT GROUP logos which are the subject of trade mark applications in Hong Kong shows that the Respondent is imitating the Complainant by displaying those logos on its website as can also be seen from Annex 3. The Panel agrees with the Complainant’s submission that this is not making a bona fide offering of goods and services within Paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name within Paragraph 4(c)(iii).
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name within Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel having found that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the mark ANT, the Complainant submits that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name on its website to attempt to pass off as the Complainant for a phishing attack; the Respondent was targeting the Complainant and its business when it registered the disputed domain name.
The Complainant relies upon Telstra Corp Ltd v Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2002-0003 to support its contention that “it is not possible to conceive of a plausible situation in which the Respondent would have been unaware” of the Complainant’s marks at the date of registration of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant also takes into account in its submission the coincidence between the date of its IPO launch and the date of registration of the domain name shortly after the IPO launch. This it submits constitutes opportunistic bad faith registration in that the Respondent registered the domain name in response to the publicity relating to the IPO launch.
The Panel has considered the evidence of the Respondent’s website at Annex 3 (which expressly refers to “Pre IPO Shares Available Now”) and finds, in the absence of a Response, that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s marks at the date of registration of the disputed domain name and used its knowledge of the Complainant’s IPO launch in creating its website.
The Complainant also submits that on the evidence of its creation and use of its website the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in order to launch a phishing attack which would be “clear evidence” of bad faith registration and use. It submits that that the Respondent’s use of its website to entice unsuspecting Internet users by masquerading as the Complainant in order to attempt to solicit sensitive financial information from unsuspecting people constitutes fraud. Such activity is in either event “illegitimate activity” within the context of paragraph 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.which states; “As noted in section 2.13.1, given that the use of a domain name for per se illegitimate activity such as the sale of counterfeit goods or phishing can never confer rights or legitimate interests on a respondent, such behaviour is manifestly considered evidence of bad faith”.
Having considered the Complainant’s evidence and in particular Annex 3 setting out the Respondent’s website the Panel, also taking into account the absence of a Response, finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by the Respondent in bad faith within 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 <antgroupipo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Clive Duncan Thorne
Date: January 11, 2021