WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
International Business Machines Corporation v. Jian Liu
Case No. D2021-0248
1. The Parties
The Complainant is International Business Machines Corporation, United States of America (“United States”), internally represented.
The Respondent is Jian Liu, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ibmdns.com> is registered with DropCatch.com 786 LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 27, 2021. On January 28, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 29, 2021, 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 Center verified that 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 February 5, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 25, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 3, 2021.
The Center appointed Rachel Tan as the sole panelist in this matter on March 11, 2021. 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 incorporated in 1911 as an amalgamation of three previously existing companies. It has been an innovator in the design and manufacture of a wide array of products that record, process, communicate, store and retrieve information, including computers and computer hardware, software and accessories since the 1880s. It officially became International Business Machines on February 14, 1924 and has been offering products under the IBM trade mark ever since.
The Complainant is the owner of a range of trade mark registrations that incorporate the element IBM in 170 countries, including the United States and China. For example, United States Registration No. 4,181,289 registered on July 31, 2012 in classes 6, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 35, and 41, United States Registration No. 3,002,164 registered on September 27, 2005 in class 9, Chinese Registration No. 5,744,987 registered on December 7, 2009 in class 1 and Chinese Registration No. 5,744,986 registered on September 14, 2009 in class 9.
The Respondent is Jian Liu, China.
The disputed domain name was registered on October 27, 2020 and resolves to an active webpage featuring pornographic and online gambling content.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the registered IBM mark. The letters “ibm” contained in the disputed domain name are exactly the same as the IBM mark. The addition of the letters “dns” do not obviate but increase the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the IBM mark as “dns” are initials for “Domain Name System” which is essentially “the phonebook of the Internet”. When consumers see the additional letters “dns” in combination with the IBM mark, there is an increased risk that consumers will believe the website is owned and controlled by the Complainant.
The Complainant further alleges that the Respondent has not been licensed, contracted, or otherwise permitted by the Complainant in any way to use the IBM mark, or to apply for any domain name incorporating such mark, nor has the Complainant acquiesced in any way to such use or application of the IBM mark by the Respondent. There is no evidence that “ibm” or “ibmdns” is the name of the Respondent’s corporate entity, nor is there any evidence of fair use. There is no evidence that the Respondent is using or plans to use the IBM mark or the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent has been actively using the disputed domain name to promote its pornographic and online gambling website for illegitimate commercial gains.
The Complainant finally asserts that the Respondent was well aware of the Complainant’s trade mark at the time the Respondent registered the disputed domain name. The Respondent had failed to respond to the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letters and that is an evidence of bad faith. The Respondent has in bad faith tried to obtain financial gain by registering and using a well-known, non-generic domain name in which it has no rights or legitimate interests to generate revenue through increased Internet user traffic and app downloads and to promote its pornography and online gambling businesses. By using the disputed domain name in connection with pornographic content, the Respondent has created a likelihood of trade mark dilution through the tarnishment of the IBM mark.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has adduced evidence to demonstrate its established rights in the IBM mark.
The Panel notes the disputed domain name is comprised of the IBM mark in its entirety. The positioning of the IBM mark in the front of the disputed domain name is instantly recognizable. In cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trade mark, 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. See section 1.7 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Further, it is accepted by previous UDRP panels that the addition to the complainant’s trade mark of other words or terms whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise would not affect the similarity of the domain name from the registered trade mark under the first element of the Policy. As such, the Panel finds the additional letters “dns” which are commonly known as the initials for “Domain Name System” do not preclude a finding of confusing similarity between the IBM mark and the disputed domain name. See section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In circumstances where the Complainant possesses exclusive rights to the IBM mark, whereas the Respondent seems to have no trade mark rights, the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the burden of production shifts to the Respondent. See section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
The Respondent has not provided evidence of a legitimate use of the disputed domain name or reasons to justify the choice of the term “ibm” in the disputed domain name. Further, there is no indication to show that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or otherwise has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is currently using the disputed domain name on a webpage featuring pornographic and gambling content. However, the Complainant has not granted the Respondent a license or authorization to use the Complainant’s IBM mark or register the disputed domain name. None of these circumstances indicates a bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name within the meaning of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy are present in this case.
For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the second element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant’s IBM mark had been registered well before the registration of the disputed domain name. Through extensive use and advertising, the Complainant’s IBM mark is known throughout the world. Moreover, the term “ibm” is not merely a name. Search results using the key word “ibm” on the Baidu and Google search engines direct Internet users to the Complainant and its products/services, which indicates that a connection between the IBM mark and the Complainant has been established. As such, the Respondent either knew or should have known of the Complainant’s IBM mark when registering the disputed domain name or has exercised “the kind of willful blindness that numerous panels have held support a finding of bad faith”. See eBay Inc. v. Renbu Bai, WIPO Case No. D2014-1693; Barclays Bank PLC v. Andrew Barnes, WIPO Case No. D2011-0874.
Section 3.1.4 of the WIPO Overview 3.0 states that “mere registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar (particularly domain names comprising typos or incorporating the mark plus a descriptive term) to a famous or widely-known trade mark by an unaffiliated entity can by itself create a presumption of bad faith”. In this case, the disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s famous IBM mark creating a presumption of bad faith.
In addition, the disputed domain name is being used by the Respondent on a website featuring pornographic and online gambling content, which demonstrates the Respondent is making commercial gain from the website by attracting Internet users by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark. See paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. Further, the pornographic materials on the website tarnish the IBM mark and this has been found by previous UDRP panels to constitute evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. See section 3.12 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
The Respondent has kept silent in the face of the Complainant’s allegations of bad faith. Taking into account these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant before registering the disputed domain name and, considering the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests, and by registering and using the disputed domain name as discussed above, the Panel is led to conclude that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the third element under paragraph 4(a) 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 names <ibmdns.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: March 24, 2021