WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Independent News Service Private Ltd (IndiaTV) v. Team India TV
Case No. D2021-0396
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Independent News Service Private Ltd (IndiaTV), India, represented by Singh & Singh Advocates, India.
The Respondent is Team India TV, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <teamindiatv.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 9, 2021. On February 9, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 11, 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 16, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 8, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 18, 2021.
The Center appointed Shwetasree Majumder as the sole panelist in this matter on March 23, 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 as a company in the year 1997 by Mr. R. Sharma, an Indian journalist and TV Anchor. The Complainant adopted the mark INDIA TV on December 1, 2002. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India had granted permission to the Complainant to uplink its 24 hours Hindi news channel called “INDIA TV” in the year 2003.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of several Indian trademark registrations for INDIA TV (figurative mark) and other word marks comprising of the mark INDIA TV. The earliest trademark registration for INDIA TV (figurative mark) is under Indian Registration No. 1262555, registered on January 22, 2004. A table showing the complete list of the trademarks owned by the Complainant along with extracts from the Indian Trade Marks Office website are attached as Annex 10 to the Complaint.
The Complainant owns domain names <indiatvnews.com> and <khabarindiatv.com> registered on November 18, 2003 and April 4, 2015 respectively. These domain names contain the Complainant’s mark INDIA TV. The Complainant’s website on its domain name <indiatvnews.com> disseminates news in English and Hindi languages and also allows news viewers to watch the Complainant’s new channel INDIA TV through web streaming.
The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name <teamindiatv.com> on May 13, 2020. The disputed domain name resolves to a website with similar news disseminating services as those provided by the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
INDIA TV is a 24 hour Hindi news channel of the Complainant, launched in 2004, with a viewership in around 150 countries in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The Complainant claims to have coined the name INDIA TV for its channel and also adopted the accompanying logo on December 1, 2002 and used the same continuously, extensively, and uninterruptedly thereafter. The Complainant has obtained trademark registrations for INDIA TV and its derivatives in India. The Complainant is the registered owner, user and proprietor of trademarks like INDIA TV, INDIA TV’S MOST WANTED, INDIA TV INSTITUTE, INDIA WIZ TV, INDIA TV WORLD, INDIA TV YUVA AWARDS and INDIATVNEWS.COM.
The Complainant owns several domain names which contain the mark INDIA TV as their integral part. The Complainant has registered the domain name <indiatvnews.com> on November 18, 2003 and domain name <khabarindiatv.com> on April 4, 2015. The Complainant’s website “www.indiatvnews.com” is popular amongst the news readers and viewers which receives considerable number of hits every day. A table showing the list of the Complainant’s domain name registrations containing the mark INDIA TV along with WhoIs extracts are attached as Annex 12 to the Complaint.
The Complainant claims that the mark INDIA TV is exclusively identified with the Complainant and its channel which is available throughout the world including India. The mark INDIA TV by reasons of continuous and extensive use has become associated exclusively with the Complainant. The Complainant has submitted that its rights in the mark INDIA TV have been recognised by several courts in India.
The Complainant has relied on past UDRP panel decisions where its rights in the mark INDIA TV were recognised and its complaints were successful. These decisions are Independent News Services Private Ltd v. Vijay Tayade, WIPO Case No. D2017-1464; Independent News Services Private Ltd v. Devendra Singh, WIPO Case No. D2018-0791; Independent News Services Private Ltd v. Rahul Mittal, WIPO Case No. D2019-0871.
The Complainant has argued that the registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent is completely dishonest, illegal and mala fide with a view to obtain illegitimate monetary gains out of the Complainant’s mark and the goodwill and reputation garnered by the Complainant. The Complainant being the prior user and registered proprietor of the mark INDIA TV and its derivatives/formatives is the only legitimate claimant to the name and mark INDIA TV. The Complainant has argued that the Respondent has full knowledge of the existence of the Complainant’s nearly identical mark INDIA TV as it is a leading news channel in India and is also aware of the Complainant’s website “www.indiatvnews.com”.
The Compliant has submitted that the Respondent’s website under the disputed domain name, is a Hindi News Portal and as such its services are identical to the Complainant’s services.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
As per paragraph 5(e) of the Rules where a respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the panel may decide the dispute based upon the complaint. The Panel does not find any exceptional circumstances in this case preventing it from determining the dispute based upon the Complaint, notwithstanding the failure of the Respondent to file a response. As per paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, where a party does not comply with any provision of the Rules, the panel may draw such inferences as it considers appropriate. It remains incumbent on the Complainant to make out its case in all respects under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements required under by a preponderance of evidence:
i. the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
The Complainant has produced registration certificates granted by the Indian Trade Mark Office in its favour in respect of the mark INDIA TV and its derivatives. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s mark INDIA TV in its entirety, together with the word “team”. The Complainant’s mark INDIA TV is clearly recognizable in the disputed domain name, and the addition of “team” does not serve to avoid a finding of confusing similarity.
The generic Top-Level Domain “.com” is generally disregarded for the purposes of comparison under this element. The WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) section 1.7 provides the consensus view of the panels: “While each case is judged on its own merits, in cases where a domain name incorporates the entirety of a trademark, 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.”
The Panel notes that the Complainant does not have a word mark registration for its mark INDIA TV. However, WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.10 stipulates that design (or figurative/stylized) elements would be incapable of representation in domain names and as such these elements are largely disregarded for purposes of assessing identity or confusing similarity under the first element. On this basis, trademark registrations with design elements would prima facie satisfy the requirement that the complainant show “rights in a mark” for further assessment as to confusing similarity.
In view of the above-mentioned findings, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy stands satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The second element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to establish on a prima facie basis that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel notes that the Complainant has already submitted evidence that it holds exclusive rights in the trademark INDIA TV by virtue of statutory registrations and by common law use, which rights have accrued in the Complainant’s favour. As the Respondent does not hold any trademark registrations for the marks INDIA TV or TEAM INDIA TV, and it does not appear to have any statutory rights over the same.
The view of previous UDRP panels on the burden of proof under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been summarized in section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, which states: “[…] where a Complainant makes out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of proof shifts to the Respondent, who must furnish relevant evidence to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.”
The Respondent has failed to file a response to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case or to advance any claim as to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name (particularly, in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy). Accordingly, the Panel finds the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In order to prevail, the Complainant must demonstrate that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith according to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy. Bad faith is understood to occur where a respondent takes unfair advantage of or otherwise abuses a complainant’s mark (see, section 3.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0).
Annex 2 to the Complaint, which are extracts from the website “www.teamindiatv.com”, show that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to offer news articles and news reports. Such services are identical to the Complainant’s services under its prior mark INDIA TV and those offered under the Complainant’s websites “www.indiatvnews.com” and “www.khabarindiatv.com”. The Panel notes that the Complainant has extensively used its INDIA TV mark for a long time before the registration of the disputed domain name, including using it on the Internet. The Respondent’s probable purpose in registering and using the disputed domain name which incorporates the entire mark of the Complainant is, in the Panel’s view, to capitalize on the reputation of the Complainant’s mark.
Absent any response from the Respondent, little is known about the Respondent (even from visiting the website at the disputed domain name), the Respondent has not availed himself of the opportunity to present any case of good faith that it might have had, and, in view of the circumstances, the Panel cannot conceive of any. The Panel finds that on the balance of probabilities, the Respondent’s conduct in registering and using the disputed domain name constitutes opportunistic bad faith under the Policy.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of 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 <teamindiatv.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 6, 2021