WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
VisaHQ.com Inc. v. Kanoone moshaverane herfeei mowje ofoghe aria
Case No. DIR2018-0002
1. The Parties
The Complainant is VisaHQ.com Inc. of Washington, D.C., United States of America (“United States”), represented Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Kanoone moshaverane herfeei mowje ofoghe aria of Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <visahq.ir> is registered with IRNIC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 3, 2018. On January 4, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to IRNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 7, 2018, IRNIC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. Hard copies of the Complaint were received by the Center on January 9, 2018. The Complainant submitted an amendment to the Complaint on February 21, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint and the amendment to the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “irDRP”), the Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 21, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 13, 2018. The Respondent did not submit a Response. On March 14, 2018, the Center notified the Respondent’s default.
The Center appointed Luca Barbero as the sole panelist in this matter on March 28, 2018. 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 provides passport and visa services for travelers through the online website “www.visahq.com”, launched in 2003, and through 24 offices in the United States and several other countries of the world.
On its website, the Complainant also provides a visa requirements database, a customs regulation database, and a directory of embassy and consulate contact information.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations for VISAHQ, including the United States trademark registration Nos. 3165127 (word mark), filed on November 23, 2005 and registered on October 31, 2006, for services in International Class 39; and 3384865 (figurative mark), filed on June 25, 2007, and registered on February 19, 2008, covering services in International Class 39.
The Complainant is also the owner of the domain name <visahq.com>, registered on December 26, 2002, as well as of additional domain names including the mark VISAHQ, such as <visahq.ae>, <visahq.co.uk>, <visahq.com.au>, <visahq.ie>, <visahq.in>, <visahq.jp> and <businessvisahq.com>. Moreover, the Complainant also supplies services related to travels to the Islamic Republic of Iran on its website “www.iran.visahq.com”.
The disputed domain name <visahq.ir> was registered on January 13, 2008 and is pointed to a website purportedly providing information and consultancy services about visa requirements and travel solutions.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <visahq.ir> is confusingly similar to its trademark VISAHQ, since it comprises the trademark in its entirety, adding only the non-distinguishing country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.ir”.
The Complainant states that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because:
i) The Respondent has chosen a domain name that is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark to redirect users to its website and promote services that directly compete with those offered by the Complainant, for the Respondent’s own commercial gain;
ii) The Respondent cannot argue that its use of VISAHQ constitutes fair use, since the Complainant’s VISAHQ mark is an inherently distinctive, immediately protectable mark, the Complainant’s VISAHQ mark has acquired distinctiveness and is the subject of incontestable United States trademark registrations;
iii) The Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name;
iv) The Complainant has not authorized it to use the VISAHQ mark.
The Complainant submits that, in light of i) the Complainant’s world-wide registrations of its VISAHQ marks, ii) the Complainant’s world-wide presence, iii) the Complainant’s long-standing use of the VISAHQ mark; iv) the fact that the disputed domain name comprises the Complainant’s VISAHQ mark in its entirety, and (v) the circumstance that the Respondent has included links on its website redirecting users to Complainant’s website, displaying the Complainant’s stylized logo on its webpages and browser tab, the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith with knowledge of the Complainant’s rights in the VISAHQ marks.
The Complainant further states that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name amounts to bad faith since:
i) the Respondent intentionally selected, registered, and is using the disputed domain name to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain, by engendering confusion and mistake with the Complainant and its VISAHQ mark and name as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, connection, and/or endorsement of the Respondent’s services. Further, the Respondent displays the VISAHQ stylized mark and logo on its website or browser tab and exploits the confusion with the Complainant’s mark to offer services that directly compete with Complainant’s;
ii) the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name constitutes bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iii) of the Policy because the Respondent has disrupted the Complainant’s business by using the disputed domain name for a website that offers services that compete with the Complainant.
The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be cancelled.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”. Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the disputed domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has provided evidence of ownership of valid trademark registrations for VISAHQ, including a word trademark registration for VISAHQ in the United States.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark VISAHQ as it reproduces the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety with the mere addition of the ccTLD “.ir”, which is typically disregarded for purposes of comparison under the first element of the Policy. See Schneider Electric v. Bijan babanejad, WIPO Case No. DIR2017-0004.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proven that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark in which it has established rights as prescribed by paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case and that the Respondent, by not having submitted a Response, has failed to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy for the following reasons.
According to the evidence on record, there is no relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent and the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to register or use its trademark or the disputed domain name.
Moreover, there is no evidence that the Respondent might have been commonly known by the disputed domain name or that it might have used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use before receiving any notice of the dispute.
On the contrary, the Respondent’s pointing of the disputed domain name to a website which promotes services substantially identical to, and competing with, the ones provided by the Complainant on its website “www.visahq.com”, suggests an attempt to divert Internet users seeking for the Complainant by causing confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proven the requirement prescribed by paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires that the Complainant proves that the disputed domain name was registered or is being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
In light of the Complainant’s prior registration and use of the trademark VISAHQ, of the identity of the disputed domain name with the trademark and of the use of the disputed domain name to promote services identical to the ones provided by the Complainant under the trademark, the Panel finds that the Respondent likely registered the disputed domain name having the Complainant’s trademark in mind.
The Panel also finds that, in view of the use of the disputed domain name to redirect users to the website currently online, purportedly promoting consultancy in the field of visa and travel services, the Respondent clearly intended to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain, by causing a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark and misleading users into believing that the Respondent is affiliated with the Complainant.
Moreover, the Respondent’s failure to submit a Response supports the finding that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
In light of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proven that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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 <visahq.ir> be cancelled.
Date: April 11, 2018