Citigroup Inc. v. Dongsan Bu
Claim Number: FA0708001060331
Complainant is Citigroup Inc. (“Complainant”), represented by Paul
D. McGrady, of Greenberg Traurig, LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <citibanks.com>, registered with Domainideas.ca Inc.
The undersigned certifies that he has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
James A. Carmody, Esq., as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to
the National Arbitration Forum electronically on
On August 21, 2007, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of September 10, 2007 by which Respondent could file a response to the Complaint, was transmitted to Respondent via e-mail, post and fax, to all entities and persons listed on Respondent's registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts, and to email@example.com by e-mail.
Having received no response from Respondent, the National Arbitration Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the National Arbitration Forum has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules") "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent." Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the National Arbitration Forum's Supplemental Rules and any rules and principles of law that the Panel deems applicable, without the benefit of any response from Respondent.
Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
A. Complainant makes the following assertions:
1. Respondent’s <citibanks.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s CITIBANK mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <citibanks.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <citibanks.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, Citigroup Inc., is one of the world’s largest
financial services companies. Around the
world, Complainant maintains over 1,700 branches and 5,100 ATMs in an estimated
one hundred countries. Complainant has
registered variations of the CITI mark with numerous trademark offices around
the world. In the
Respondent registered the <citibanks.com> domain name
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs this Panel to "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."
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, the Panel shall decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations pursuant to paragraphs 5(e), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules and draw such inferences it considers appropriate pursuant to paragraph 14(b) of the Rules. The Panel is entitled to accept all reasonable allegations and inferences set forth in the Complaint as true unless the evidence is clearly contradictory. See Vertical Solutions Mgmt., Inc. v. webnet-marketing, inc., FA 95095 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 31, 2000) (holding that the respondent’s failure to respond allows all reasonable inferences of fact in the allegations of the complaint to be deemed true); see also Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson, D2000-0009 (WIPO Feb. 29, 2000) (“In the absence of a response, it is appropriate to accept as true all allegations of the Complaint.”).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that Complainant’s registration of the CITIBANK
mark with the USPTO sufficiently establishes its rights in the mark under Policy
¶ 4(a)(i). See Innomed
Techs., Inc. v. DRP Servs., FA 221171
(Nat. Arb. Forum
Respondent’s <citibanks.com> domain
name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s CITIBANK mark, as it incorporates the entire mark and simply adds
the letter “s.” In addition, the
inclusion of the generic top-level domain “.com” in the disputed domain name is
irrelevant, as a top-level domain is a required element of all domain
names. Thus, the Panel finds that the <citibanks.com> domain
name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s CITIBANK mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Reuters
Ltd. v. Global Net 2000, Inc., D2000-0441 (WIPO July 13, 2000) (finding
that a domain name which differs by only one letter from a trademark has a
greater tendency to be confusingly similar to the trademark where the trademark
is highly distinctive); see also Nat’l Geographic Soc’y v. Stoneybrook Invs.,
FA 96263 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 11, 2001) (finding that the domain name
<nationalgeographics.com> was confusingly similar to the complainant’s
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC mark); see also Nev. State Bank v. Modern Ltd. – Cayman Web
Dev., FA 204063 (Nat. Arb. Forum
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).
Complainant alleges that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <citibanks.com> domain name. Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant has the initial burden of proving this allegation, and then the burden shifts to Respondent once Complainant has made a prima facie case. The Panel finds that, in the present case, Complainant made a prima facie showing under the Policy. See Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, D2000-0624 (WIPO Aug. 21, 2000) (holding that, where the complainant has asserted that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name, it is incumbent on the respondent to come forward with concrete evidence rebutting this assertion because this information is “uniquely within the knowledge and control of the respondent”); see also Clerical Med. Inv. Group Ltd. v. Clericalmedical.com, D2000-1228 (WIPO Nov. 28, 2000) (finding that, under certain circumstances, the mere assertion by the complainant that the respondent has no right or legitimate interest is sufficient to shift the burden of proof to the respondent to demonstrate that such a right or legitimate interest does exist).
Respondent’s failure to answer the Complaint allows the
Panel to presume that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the
disputed domain name. See Talk City, Inc. v. Robertson,
Complainant asserts that
Respondent is not commonly known by the <citibanks.com> domain name under
Policy ¶ (c)(ii). The Panel finds that
nothing in the record suggests that Respondent is commonly known by the
disputed domain name. Respondent’s WHOIS
information does not indicate that Respondent is commonly known by the disputed
domain name. Moreover, Respondent is not
a licensee of Complainant’s CITIBANK mark and
is not otherwise authorized to use Complainant’s mark. The Panel finds that Respondent lacks rights
and legitimate interests in the <citibanks.com> domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent
Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum
The disputed domain name that Respondent registered, <citibanks.com>, resolves to a website featuring links to websites in direct competition with Complainant. The Panel presumes that Respondent earns click-through fees when Internet users click on these links. This is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and it is not a legitimate, noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). This also supports findings that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See WeddingChannel.com Inc. v. Vasiliev, FA 156716 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 12, 2003) (finding that the respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to websites unrelated to the complainant’s mark, websites where the respondent presumably receives a referral fee for each misdirected Internet user, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services as contemplated by the Policy); see also TM Acquisition Corp. v. Sign Guards, FA 132439 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 31, 2002) (finding that the respondent’s diversionary use of the complainant’s marks to send Internet users to a website which displayed a series of links, some of which linked to the complainant’s competitors, was not a bona fide offering of goods or services).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).
Complainant alleges that Respondent registered and is using
the <citibanks.com> domain name in bad faith pursuant to
Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). Respondent is using
the disputed domain name to redirect Internet users to third-party websites in
direct competition with Complainant. The
Panel finds that such use constitutes a disruption of Complainant’s business
and qualifies as bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See S.
Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat.
As mentioned previously, the Panel presumes that Respondent benefits commercially when Internet users click on the links featured on the website that resolves from the <citibanks.com> domain name. Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent is attempting to attract, for financial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s CITIBANK mark as to the source, sponsorship, or affiliation with the disputed domain name. This is further evidence of Respondent’s bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Associated Newspapers Ltd. v. Domain Manager, FA 201976 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 19, 2003) (“Respondent's prior use of the <mailonsunday.com> domain name is evidence of bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) because the domain name provided links to Complainant's competitors and Respondent presumably commercially benefited from the misleading domain name by receiving ‘click-through-fees.’”); see also Perot Sys. Corp. v. Perot.net, FA 95312 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith where the domain name in question is obviously connected with the complainant’s well-known marks, thus creating a likelihood of confusion strictly for commercial gain).
The Panel finds that Complainant satisfied Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <citibanks.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
James A. Carmody, Esq., Panelist
Dated: September 27, 2007
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