WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Limited Liability Company “Kapusta” v. Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf / Limited Liability Company Microcredit Company “Rusinterfinans” / Robert Thiel
Case No. D2021-2262
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Limited Liability Company “Kapusta”, Russian Federation (“Russia”), represented by Artpatent, Russia.
The Respondent is Privacy service provided by Withheld for Privacy ehf, Iceland / Limited Liability Company Microcredit Company “Rusinterfinans”, Russia / Robert Thiel, Belize, represented by Adlex Solicitors, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ekapusta.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 13, 2021. On July 13, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 13, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on July 28, 2021, 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 July 28, 201.
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 July 30, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 19, 2021. The due date for Response was extended to August 29, 2021, in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(b) and paragraph 5(e). The Response was filed with the Center August 29, 2021.
The Center appointed W. Scott Blackmer, Linda Chang, and David H. Bernstein as panelists in this matter on September 24, 2021. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of 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.
The Panel reviewed the file and issued Administrative Panel Procedural Order No. 1 on October 8, 2021 requesting three items from the Parties:
1. A copy of the Complainant’s current Russian trademark registration.
2. A description, with supporting documentation if possible, of the Respondent’s relationship with Rusinterfinans, currently and at the time of the Domain Name registration in May 2015.
3. Certified English translations of the Complainant’s Annexes 5 and 6 (the 2020 and 2016 Arbitration Court awards in proceedings between the Complainant and Rusinterfinans).
The Complainant subsequently asked for additional time to obtain translations of the arbitral decisions and asked about formalities such as apostilles. The Respondent furnished a reply on October 22, 2021 to the Panel’s Order (the “Respondent’s Reply”), and the Complainant did so on October 28, 2021 (the “Complainant’s Reply”). These submissions at the request of the Panel are considered in the discussion below. See Rules, paragraph 12 (“In addition to the complaint and the response, the Panel may request, in its sole discretion, further statements or documents from either of the Parties.”)
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a Russian limited liability company formed in February 2011 and headquartered in Vyatskiye Polyany, Kirov Oblast, Russia. The Complainant states that it has been offering “microfinance services” in the form of processing applications for cash loans to individuals since 2011. “Kapusta” (“капуста” in lower-case Cyrillic letters, or “ КАПУСТА ” in upper-case letters) is Russian for “cabbage”, which the parties agree is used as a slang term for “cash” or “money”.
Apparently referring to a predecessor in interest, Kapusta Microfinance Organization Limited Liability Company (“Kapusta Microfinance”), the Complainant recounts that “the Applicant” started offering such microfinance services in 2009 using a website at the domain name <kapusta.su>, registered on July 9, 2009. This domain name later redirected to “the Applicant’s domain name” at <kapusta.biz”>, as it does at the time of this Decision. The Russian-language website at “www.kapusta.biz” (the “Complainant’s website”) provides information on the Complainant’s microfinance business and offers site users the ability to apply online for instant loans (credited to their credit card accounts), repayable at interest rates of up to 365 percent per annum.
The online database of the Russian Federation Federal Service for Intellectual Property (“FSIP”) shows that Kapusta Microfinance applied for registration of КАПУСТА as a word mark on August 19, 2011. The mark was registered on September 13, 2012, Registration Number 470657. The FSIP database shows changes in the trademark registration in February 2015 and March 2018, resulting in the Complainant being listed as the current owner of the trademark registration, after being previously registered as a non-exclusive licensee.
The Registrar reports that the Domain Name was created on May 11, 2015. At the time the Complaint was filed in the current proceeding, the Registrar’s WhoIs database showed that the Domain Name was registered in the name of the Respondent privacy service. After receiving notice of the Complaint, the Registrar identified the underlying registrant as the Respondent Mr. Robert Thiel, with an address in Belize.
The Complainant initially named as the sole respondent “Limited Liability Company Microcredit Company ‘Rusinterfinans’” (“Rusinterfinans LLC”), a Russian limited liability company headquartered in Novosibirsk, Russia that operates the website associated with the Domain Name (the “Respondent’s website”). Mr. Thiel, who is represented by counsel, filed a Response in this proceeding identifying himself as “agent on behalf of Rusinterfinans LLC”. The Response affirms that “References to ‘the Respondent’ below should be treated as referring to this company unless otherwise stated.”
The Respondent’s Reply to the Panel Order reaffirms this relationship (without elaboration) and the timeline given in the Response, which indicates that the Respondent acquired the Domain Name more than two years after its original creation in 2015:
“The Company wishes to clarify that the disputed domain name was originally registered in the name of Alexander Gerasev, the controller of the Company [Rusinterfinans LLC], on or about September 16, 2017.
On October 11, 2017, the disputed domain name was switched into the name of the Respondent (see Namecheap email in the Annex below) purely as a placeholder name for privacy purposes. The Company received all communications sent via the new contact details and remained in control of the domain name.
As explained in the Response, the Company launched its website at the domain name two months later in December 2017.
In view of the Company’s continuing control, and open use, of the domain name, the Company respectfully submits that nothing turns on the registrant name used as a placeholder for the Company.”
The referenced 2017 email exchange with the Registrar shows the new registrant as Mr. Thiel, listing his organization as “Owl Company Inc.” That organization does not appear in the registration details currently reported by the Registrar.
The Panel notes that the chronology recounted by the Respondent is consistent with screenshots recorded by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. These show that the Domain Name was associated with a Sedo landing page advertising the Domain Name for sale until late 2017. By December 2017 there are screenshots advertising the online loan services of “eKapusta”, as is the case at the time of this Decision.
The Domain Name resolves to the Russian-language website of Rusinterfinans (‘the Respondent’s website”) headed with an “eKapusta” logo. The Respondent’s website offers instant approval for cash loans paid to any of various credit card and payment transfer accounts. The Respondent’s website clearly identifies Rusinterfinans LLC as the operator and provides information about its licensing to conduct microfinance activities.
Given the factual record of the current registration of the Domain Name by Mr. Thiel, the continuing use of the Domain Name for the Rusinterfinans website since late 2017, and the statements in the Reply to the effect that Rusinterfinans LLC has directed the registration of the Domain Name and controlled the Domain Name since September 16, 2017, the Panel finds it appropriate to treat Rusinterfinans LLC as a Respondent and refers to Rusinterfinans LLC and Mr. Thiel collectively hereafter as “the Respondent” except where necessary to distinguish one or the other for their individual actions.
The Response demonstrates that on February 12, 2012 the principal of Rusinterfinans LLC registered the domain name <ekapusta.ru> to use in connection with the online lending business that was in formation at that time. The Response attaches records showing that the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC was established as a limited liability company a few days later, on February 20, 2012, and obtained a license from the Central Bank of Russia on March 22, 2012 to offer microfinance services. The Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC launched its website in May 2012 and issued its first loan through the site on June 1, 2012 (the Response attaches an extract from its loans database). The Response attaches a screenshot of the Respondent’s website at <ekapusta.ru> on April 15, 2013, including images of green vegetables humorously echoing the theme suggested by the name “kapusta” (cabbage). The Respondent’s website at the time of this Decision still features a logo with a stylized leafy green design around the letter “e” preceding the Cyrillic cursive version of “kapusta”.
The Complainant became aware of the Respondent’s competing microfinance website and filed a complaint in 2015 in the Arbitration Court of the Novosibersk Region (an organ of the Russian court system) against the Russian registrar of <ekapusta.ru>, Case No. A45-20311/2015. The complaint was grounded on trademark infringement under Russian law, as there is no equivalent of the UDRP for the “.ru” country code Top-Level Domain. The Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC participated in the proceeding as an interested third party. The decision in that proceeding, attached to the Complaint, was issued on February 9, 2016 (the “2016 Arbitration Award”), finding that:
- the Complainant held exclusive trademark rights in КАПУСТА with priority from August 19, 2011 in International Classes 36 and 45 and actively used the mark for commercial activities in the field of lending;
-the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC used the domain name <ekapusta.ru> for a website promoting and facilitating online loans, which would be classified as financial services in International Class 36;
-the domain name <ekapusta.ru> was confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered mark phonetically, semantically, and in “general visual appearance”.
The Arbitration Court awarded the Complainant damages and costs and prohibited the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC from using the domain name <ekapusta.ru> and other designations “confusingly similar to the trademark”.
Following this decision, according to the Response, the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC switched its website to a similar domain name, <e-kapusta.ru>, to remain in business. It then acquired the Domain Name on September 16, 2017 and launched its website at that location on December 12, 2017.
The record in this proceeding includes a subsequent arbitral decision in a proceeding that involved the Domain Name. The Complainant filed a complaint in 2019 in the Arbitration Court of the Novosibersk Region, Case No. A45-10613/2019, naming as defendant the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC and seeking damages and a prohibition of further trademark infringement. By this time, the Respondent’s website was associated with the Domain Name at issue in the current proceeding, <ekapusta.com>, registered with the current Registrar, which is based in the United States of America (“United States”). The June 28, 2020 decision of the Arbitration Court (the “2020 Arbitration Award”) details the Arbitration Court’s difficulties in attempting to obtain evidence from the Registrar in the United States. In light of these obstacles and delays, the Complainant waived its demand for a prohibition against using identical or confusingly similar designations including use of the Domain Name, and the case proceeded to trial only on the Complainant’s claims for damages.
The Arbitration Court found that the Complainant and three affiliates in its group actively used the registered КАПУСТА mark in their business and found that the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC used its website associated with the Domain Name for an online loan service with a domain name and logo confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The arbitrator ruled that the phonetic, semantic, and visual similarity was “obvious” and awarded damages and costs to the Complainant.
The 2020 Arbitration Award mentioned that the 2016 Arbitration Award was upheld on appeal, and that after the 2016 decision the registration of the domain name <ekapusta.ru> was transferred to Mr. Gerasev, a director of the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC, who also registered the domain names <e-kapusta.ru> and <ekapusta.rf>. The 2020 Arbitration Award recounted that in 2017 the Complainant successfully brought a prohibition action against Mr. Gerasev (with the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC participating as an interested third party) in the Sovetsky District Court of Novosibirsk, Russia to prevent further use of those domain names (Case No. 2-989/2017, Decision, July 27, 2017).
The 2020 Arbitration Award also mentioned that the Respondent brought a proceeding before the Russian Court for Intellectual Property Rights (“IP Court”), seeking to invalidate the Complainant’s trademark for non-use (Case No. SIP-36/2017). In its decision of August 8, 2017, the IP Court rejected that claim.
The record shows that the parties have discussed trademark licensing or purchase arrangements on several occasions since 2014. This UDRP action follows the last such communications in July 2021.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its registered КАПУСТА trademark, as the arbitrator concluded in the 2020 Arbitration Award.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent can have no legitimate interests in the Domain Name because the Complainant filed its trademark application on August 19, 2011, before the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC was established as a legal entity on February 20, 2012.
The Complainant argues that the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC is an imitative competitor that has repeatedly registered and used confusingly similar domain names in bad faith, most recently the Domain Name at issue in this proceeding, to compete unfairly by misdirecting Internet users to the Respondent’s website.
The Respondent challenges any claim to prior use of the КАПУСТА mark for lack of evidence and, indeed, question whether the Complainant has demonstrated that the mark is in current use. The Response attaches a translated screenshot from the Central Bank of Russia licensing database showing that the Complainant’s microfinance license is listed as “inactive” since September 1, 2014. The Response also attaches an analysis of the Complainant’s website by SimilarWeb conducted in August 2021, concluding that the Complainant’s website has “little or no data to analyze”.
As a further indication that the Complainant is not actively employing the trademark, the Response relates that the Complainant has repeatedly offered to sell the trademark to the Respondent since 2016 (after approaching the Respondent about licensing in 2014). The Complainant proposed to sell the trademark to the Respondent for USD 2 million in July 2021 and then advertised the trademark for sale online for RUB 200 million (about USD 3 million). The advertisement justified the value of the mark by citing the monthly volume of search queries for “екапуста” in Wordstat and Google Ads. According to the Respondent, these queries that are actually associated with the Respondent’s website.
The Respondent contends that it has used the slang term “капуста” (Romanized “kapusta”) appropriately for a bona fide offering of commercial services in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy, adding the “e” prefix commonly used to signify electronic services, and is also commonly known by the “ekapusta” Domain Name and logo for the purpose of paragraph 4(c)(ii) of the Policy. The Respondent demonstrates with official documents, extracts of accounting records, and archived screenshots of the Respondent’s website that the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC has been doing licensed microfinance business online since May 2012. For this business, the Respondent has used a succession of domain names incorporating the string “ekapusta” or “e-kapusta”, and the Respondent’s website has from the outset displayed a logo with the letter “e” preceding a cursive Cyrillic version of the word “kapusta” as part of a figurative logo. The Respondent demonstrates that the business is substantial. The Respondent has issued over 12 million loans since 2012 with a value of over USD 1 billion. Its revenue in 2020 was approximately RUB 13.7 billion (about USD 192.2 million). According to SimilarWeb, there were 1,437 million visits to the Respondent’s website in the month of July 2021.
The Respondent denies that it selected the “ekapusta” name for its domain names and logo in bad faith to target the Complainant’s trademark. According to the Response, the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant when the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC started its business in 2012, first using the domain name <ekapusta.ru> for the Respondent’s website from May 2012. The Respondent contends that the Complainant conducted its microlending business in offline retail shops and had no online presence in 2012 when the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC commenced it own operations online. The Respondent observes that the Complainant claims an undefined connection to the domain name <kapusta.su> created in 2009, before the Complainant was established in 2011, but the Response demonstrates that the Complainant likely acquired that domain name no earlier than 2013, when historical WhoIs records show that the registration contact details changed from “forwebsale@[generic domain]”. Also in 2013, the first archived screenshots for <kapusta.su> appear in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, and these are associated not with the Complainant’s website but with the Russian-language website of a money-transfer service provider called Gold Line International. Only in October 2013 do archived screenshots begin to appear for the earliest versions of the Complainant’s website, which did not offer online loans but rather advertised franchises for retail cash loan offices operating under the Complainant’s license. The Response also attaches WhoIs records showing that the Complainant’s domain name <kapusta.biz> was created only on February 19, 2014. The Respondent asserts that it became aware of the Complainant in April 2014, after the Respondent had been doing business for two years as “ekapusta”.
The Respondent seeks a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, arguing that the Complainant made misleading statements concerning when it commenced doing business online and knew that it could not establish the Respondent’s bad faith.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to divest a respondent of a domain name, a complainant must demonstrate each of the following:
(i) the 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 domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Under paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, “[a] Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The first element of a UDRP complaint “functions primarily as a standing requirement” and entails “a straightforward comparison between the complainant’s trademark and the domain name”. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7. The Complainant holds a trademark registration for the Cyrillic dictionary word КАПУСТА (“cabbage”) as a word mark. The Respondent argues that the Complainant is not using the mark, but the mark is currently registered to the Complainant, the IP Court rejected a challenge based on non-use in 2017, and the 2020 Arbitration Award found active use. The Panel concludes that the Complainant currently has rights in the mark for purposes of the Policy.
The Domain Name represents the transliteration into the Latin alphabet of the Cyrillic word mark, preceded by the letter “e”, which is commonly used to signify “electronic” (see the Wiktionary and Dictionary.com entries for “e-“). A transliteration of a trademark will normally be found to be identical or confusingly similar to the trademark for purposes of standing under the Policy, where the trademark is incorporated or otherwise recognizable in the domain name string (id. section 1.14), because its sound and sense are the same. The addition of the “e” prefix does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See id. section 1.8. (The Panel notes that the Russian arbitral tribunal came to the same conclusion with respect the confusing similarity of the Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark under Russian trademark law in the 2020 Arbitration Award.) As usual, the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” is disregarded as a standard registration requirement. See id. section 1.11.2.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered mark for purposes of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i) and concludes that the Complainant has established the first element of the Complaint.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives non-exclusive examples of instances in which a respondent may establish rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, by demonstrating any of the following:
(i) before any notice to it of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) that the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if it has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
Because a respondent in a UDRP proceeding is in the best position to assert rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, it is well established that after a complainant makes a prima facie case, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence of its rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1.
The Complainant has established trademark rights, a lack of permissive use, and potentially competitive use by the Respondent. This shifts the burden to the Respondent.
The Respondent claims that before notice of the dispute it was making bona fide commercial use of a name corresponding to the Domain Name and was known by that name. The Respondent Mr. Thiel was merely an agent, and the Respondent Rusinterfinans LLC was incorporated under a different name, not a name corresponding to the Domain Name. But the Respondent registered an “ekapusta” domain name in February 2012, and the Respondent consistently branded its services with the Cyrillic “ekapusta” name and logo on the Respondent’s website from the time it was launched in May 2012. The record shows that the Respondent’s service is advertised online (with Google Ads, for example) as “екапуста”, a name corresponding to the Domain Name. This is a business licensed by the Central Bank of Russia that has made over USD 1 billion in loans over a period of more than nine years. Such evidence is persuasive in establishing the Respondent’s legitimate interests. See WIPO Overview 3.0, sections 2.2 (evidence of commercial use prior to the dispute can include business formation and plans, advertising, credible signs of pursuit of business plans, and “registration and use of related domain names”) and 2.3 (evidence of being known by a corresponding name includes proof that a business organization uses and is known by the name, independent of the disputed domain name, even if it has not acquired corresponding trademark or service mark rights).
These facts would establish the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name under the Policy, paragraphs 4(c)(i) and (ii), unless the Complainant offered persuasive evidence of pretext, establishing the probability that the Respondent selected the “екапуста” name for its service and the corresponding “ekapusta” string for its domain names in February 2012 not for their common and relevant signification (electronic cash) but in anticipation of the Complainant’s trademark, which was then applied for. (See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.8.2, “Domain names registered in anticipation of trademark rights”, discussing the parallel issue under the third UDRP element, bad faith). That could conceivably undermine the Respondent’s claim of “legitimate” interests and a “bona fide” offering. While the Respondent could credibly be charged with bad faith when it acquired the Domain Name in 2017, as it was undeniably aware of the Complainant’s trademark at that time, that is less plausibly the case in early 2012 when the Respondent began to use the names “ekapusta” and “екапуста” in its new online business. Despite the Complainant’s unsupported assertion in this proceeding, the record indicates that the Complainant did not have a website until late 2013 at <kapusta.su>, and it did not register <kapusta.biz> until February 2014.
Thus, there is no convincing evidence that in February 2012 the Respondent chose the “екапуста” name for its loan service, and the corresponding “ekapusta” string for its domain names, to attack an anticipated trademark of the Complainant. The available record indicates that the Complainant was at that time a recently formed company with no online presence, which had obtained a microfinance license from the Central Bank of Russia just two months earlier and was beginning commercial operations offline. The Respondent’s denial of prior knowledge of the Complainant is credible, and there is no compelling rationale for a finding that the Respondent’s name choice was pretextual.
The Panel concludes, therefore, that the Respondent has presented credible evidence of legitimate interests in the Domain Name, and the Complainant has not satisfied its ultimate burden of proof on the second element of the Complaint.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the Panel’s conclusion on the second element of the Complaint, it is unnecessary to assess the Respondent’s bad faith in the registration and use of the Domain Name. The Complainant must establish all three elements to obtain the relief requested.
For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.
8. Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
Paragraph 15(e) of the UDRP Rules provides that, if “after considering the submissions the panel finds that the complaint was brought in bad faith, for example in an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (‘RDNH’) or was brought primarily to harass the domain-name holder, the panel shall declare in its decision that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constitutes an abuse of the administrative proceeding”. The Respondent has requested such a finding here.
Reverse Domain Name Hijacking is defined under the UDRP Rules as “using the UDRP in bad faith to attempt to deprive a registered domain-name holder of a domain name”. Mere lack of success of a complaint is not sufficient to find Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. See WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.16. A finding of RDNH is warranted, for example, when a panel finds that the complainant (especially one represented by counsel) should have recognized that it could not succeed on one of the three elements of the complaint under any fair interpretation of the available facts or brings a complaint based “on only the barest of allegations without any supporting evidence” (id.).
That is not the case here. The proceeding is unusually complex, and the Panel found it necessary to issue an Administrative Panel Procedural Order requesting further information from both the Complainant and the Respondent. The Complainant’s statements concerning the commencement of its online business were factually incomplete in material respects; so was the Respondent’s initial account of the Domain Name registration and use. Ultimately, the Panel found in favor of the Respondent on the second element of the Complaint, but this conclusion required a detailed reconstruction of events years before the Respondent acquired the Domain Name. The Panel does not agree with the Respondent’s assertion that the Complainant “should have known” that it could not prevail on the element of bad faith. This is particularly questionable because the Respondent acknowledges that it acquired the Domain Name only in 2017, after it had been involved in arbitration and litigation over the Complainant’s trademark rights in Russia. The Respondent prevailed on other grounds, on which there was room for evidentiary development and argumentation.
Accordingly, the Panel declines to enter a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking against the Complainant in this proceeding.
W. Scott Blackmer
David H. Bernstein
Date: November 15, 2021