WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs v. Ilaria Passon
Case No. D2017-1312
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“UK”), represented by Demys Limited, UK.
The Respondent is Ilaria Passon of London, UK.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <refund-tax-hm-rc.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with 1&1 Internet SE (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 7, 2017. On July 7, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 10, 2017, 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 July 13, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 2, 2017. On July 14, 2017, the Center received an email from a person with the same name as the Respondent. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 3, 2017.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on August 9, 2017. 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 is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support and the administration of other regulatory regimes. It is accountable for safeguarding the flow of money to the UK Exchequer through its collection, compliance and enforcement activities, and through these activities it ensures that money is available to fund the UK’s public services.
The Complainant’s ultimate predecessor was the Board of Taxes which was founded in 1665 and renamed the Board of Inland Revenue in 1849. The Complainant in its present form was created by the merger of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise in 2005. Almost every UK individual and business is a direct customer of the Complainant.
The Complainant operates a website under the UK Government’s “.gov.uk” portal at “www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs”. It is also accessible through the <hmrc.gov.uk> domain name. The Complainant is the proprietor of UK registered trademark number 2471470 HMRC registered as of November 5, 2007.
The Domain Name was registered on October 11, 2016. Until at least January 2017, the Domain Name did not resolve to an active website. It now resolves to a parking page comprising pay per click links featuring terms such as “Turbo tax refund”, “Income Tax Refund Estimator” and “HMRC Tax Forms”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its HMRC trademark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions. The email received by the Center on July 14, 2017, referred to above, stated that they had received a letter from the Center informing them that the Complaint had been filed, but that they had “no idea what this is about and I didn’t receive any email about it”.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has uncontested rights in the HMRC trademark, both by virtue of its trademark registration and as a result of the goodwill and reputation acquired through its widespread use of the mark over a number of years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, the Domain Name differs from the trademark only by the addition of a hyphen and the word “refund-tax”. In the view of the Panel, these additions do not detract from the confusing similarity between the Complainant’s mark and the Domain Name. Indeed, given the notoriety of “HMRC” and the association between “tax refunds” and the Complainant, these additions heighten the likelihood of confusion. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent could have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent has not used the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Latterly, the Domain Name has resolved to a parking page comprising pay-per-click links featuring terms associated with the Complainant or its activities. The Panel accepts the Complainant’s submission that it is impossible to conceive of any legitimate use to which the Respondent could put the Domain Name and notes that although there is no evidence of any fraudulent activity on the part of the Respondent, domain names similar to the Domain Name are often used for phishing emails. The Respondent did not respond to pre-action correspondence sent on behalf of the Complainant and has chosen not to respond to the Complaint or to take any steps to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In light of the nature of the Domain Name, the Panel is in no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its rights in the HMRC mark in mind when it registered the Domain Name. As noted above, the Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate use to which the Respondent could put the Domain Name. In the Panel’s view, the obvious inference is that the Respondent registered the Domain Name for commercial gain with a view to taking unfair advantage of the Complainant’s rights in the HMRC mark, by confusing Internet users into believing that the Domain Name was being operated by or authorized by the Complainant for legitimate purposes related to the Complainant’s activities. The Panel considers that this amounts to paradigm bad faith registration and use for the purposes of the Policy.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used 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 Domain Name <refund-tax-hm-rc.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: August 21, 2017