WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
BAWAG P.S.K. Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft und Österreichische Postsparkasse Aktiengesellschaft v. Host Master, 1337 Services LLC
Case No. D2021-1442
1. The Parties
Complainant is BAWAG P.S.K. Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft und Österreichische Postsparkasse Aktiengesellschaft, Austria, represented by Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH, Austria.
Respondent is Host Master, 1337 Services LLC, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <easy-bksecure.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 10, 2021. On May 10, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On May 10, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on May 13, 2021 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on May 17, 2021.
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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 18, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 7, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on June 23, 2021.
The Center appointed Clive L. Elliott Q.C. as the sole panelist in this matter on July 2, 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
Complainant is one of the largest banks in Austria, with 2.4 million customers, and is a nationally recognised brand. It was created by the merger in 2005 of Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft (BAWAG) with Österreichische Postsparkasse (P.S.K.). Since 1996 it has operated the direct bank “Easybank” under the domain <easybank.at>, offering e-banking services as well as information about credits.
Complainant is the registered owner of a series of trade marks in Austria and the European Union for EASY KREDIT, EASYBANK, as well as its logo (“Complainant’s Marks”).
January 29, 2008
April 10, 2013
June 24, 2013
European Union Trade Mark
February 8, 1999
European Union Trade Mark
June 8, 2004
Complainant has used the colour green in its corporate communication, on its website, mailings and annual reports. It uses the following icon for its mobile app:
According to the publicly available WhoIs, the Domain Name was registered on November 26, 2020.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s Marks in that it almost takes over the whole trade mark “easybank”. It submits that the removal of two letters “a” and “n” makes insignificant difference to the overall impression but rather increases the confusion as the alteration is not apparent at first glance (“easybank” to “easy-bk”) and appears as an abbreviation of “easy-bank”. Complainant further asserts, that the addition of the descriptive word “secure” does not change the overall impression of the Domain Name.
Complainant states that it has never granted any licence or other right to Respondent to use or register any domain incorporating Complainant’s Marks.
Complainant notes that Respondent is offering financial services to French customers via an email account using the Domain Name, posing as employees of Easybank and operating under Complainant’s Marks and company name. Such registration and use of the Domain Name, Complainant submits, is evidence that the Domain Name has been created with fraudulent intent.
Complainant claims that it has been the victim of similar fraudulent cases in the past with the unknown perpetrators using the same method of offering the sale of various shares, with similar domains, leading Complainant to believe that the domains are all used by the same person.
Complainant stresses that this approach has now become more frequent and since December 17, 2020 there have been several similar incidents in which domains have been registered with are almost identical to Complainant’s Marks, where some of them have only been changed by one letter or a punctuation mark. Under these domains, emails were sent to various consumers in France in a deliberate attempt to create the false impression that these emails originated from Complainant.
Complainant maintains that Respondent is deliberately creating a false and misleading impression that it is affiliated with Complainant and has registered, and is using, the Domain Name in bad faith.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant is one of Austria’s largest banks. It has since 1996 operated a range of e-banking services under or by reference to Complainant’s Marks.
Complainant acknowledges that the Domain Name is not identical to Complainant’s Marks but argues it is nevertheless confusingly similar. It contends that Respondent has, in effect, taken the trade mark “EASYBANK” in its entirety and that the removal of the two letters “a” and “n” makes little difference in terms of overall impression. That is, that consumers would still recognise “easy-bk” possibly as an abbreviation of “easy-bank” which the Panel accepts. Further, the Panel finds that the addition of the word “secure” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8.
On that basis, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s Marks. Accordingly, the first ground under the Policy is made out.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant contends that Respondent is using the Domain Name for improper purposes. In particular, Complainant alleges that Respondent is offering financial services to French customers via an email account using the Domain Name, posing as employees of Easybank and operating under Complainant’s Marks and company name.
Such conduct is likely to lead to members of the public accessing Respondent’s website under the mistaken impression that they are visiting a genuine site, associated with Complainant, when that is not the case. Given that Respondent has filed no response and has not sought to challenge these allegations the Panel accepts Complainant’s allegations.
Complainant states that Respondent has no license or permission to use Complainant’s Marks.
Under the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name was not registered and has not been used for any legitimate or fair purpose.
Accordingly, the second ground under the Policy is made out.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Complainant raises two points in support of its argument that the Domain Name was registered and used in bad faith. First, that a cursory Internet search at the time of registration of the Domain Name would have shown that Complainant had rights in Complainant’s trade marks. Secondly, that Respondent’s use of an anonymization service points towards bad faith registration.
Taking this submission into account and noting especially the particular circumstances as described above, the Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and used for the purpose of taking advantage of Complainant’s reputation and Complainant’s trade marks to misleadingly attract Internet users to webpages and likely to do so for profit. This amounts to bad faith conduct under the Policy.
Complainant has therefore clearly established the third ground under 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 Domain Name, <easy-bksecure.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Clive L. Elliott Q.C.
Date: July 21, 2021