The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc v. Melvyn Ivy
Claim Number: FA0811001235088
Complainant is The
Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (“Complainant”), represented by James A. Thomas, of Troutman Sanders LLP,
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <rbssscot-uk.com>, registered with Melbourne It, Ltd. d/b/a Internet Names Worldwide.
The undersigned certifies that he or she has acted independently and impartially and to the best of his or her knowledge has no known conflict in serving as Panelist in this proceeding.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the National Arbitration Forum electronically on November 20, 2008; the National Arbitration Forum received a hard copy of the Complaint on November 21, 2008.
On November 20, 2008, Melbourne It, Ltd. d/b/a Internet Names Worldwide confirmed by e-mail to the National Arbitration Forum that the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name is registered with Melbourne It, Ltd. d/b/a Internet Names Worldwide and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Melbourne It, Ltd. d/b/a Internet Names Worldwide has verified that Respondent is bound by the Melbourne It, Ltd. d/b/a Internet Names Worldwide registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain-name disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy").
On November 26, 2008, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification"), setting a deadline of December 16, 2008 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.
On December 19, 2008, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the National Arbitration Forum appointed Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.) as Panelist.
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 <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s RBS mark.
2. Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name.
3. Respondent registered and used the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name in bad faith.
B. Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, was founded in 1727 and holds several trademark registrations in the RBS mark, including registrations with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) (Reg. No. 2,004,617 issued January 5, 1996), the European Union Office for Harmonization in the International Market (“OHIM”) (Reg. No. 97,469 issued March 23, 1998), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (Reg. No. 3,185,538 issued December 19, 2006) in relation to its banking services. In addition, Complainant offers online banking services to its customers through the websites resolving from the <rbs.com>, <rbsgroup.com>, and <rbs-asia.com> domain names.
Respondent registered the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name on September 13, 2008. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that purports to be Complainant’s official site. It consists of several linked pages that have spaces for customers to sign-in to their accounts or start a new account. These online forms request personal information, for example bank account, pin, and ATM card numbers.
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.
Under the Policy, Complainant must first establish that it has rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Complainant’s multiple trademark registrations with the UKIPO, OHIM, and USPTO establish its rights to the RBS mark pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Mattel, Inc. v. KPF, Inc., FA 244073 (Nat. Arb. Forum Apr. 26, 2004) (“Complainant established rights in the BARBIE mark through registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (‘USPTO’).”); see also Royal Bank of Scot. Group plc & Nat. Westminster Bank plc v. Soloviov, FA 787983 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 3, 2006) (“Complainant’s trademark registrations for the NATWEST mark with the United Kingdom Patent Office . . . establish Complainant’s rights in the mark pursuant to Policy ¶4(a)(i).”).
domain name consists of Complainant’s RBS mark, the letter “s,” the terms
“scot” and “uk,” a hyphen, and the generic top-level domain (“gTLD”)
“.com.” The use of a hyphen and the gTLD
in the disputed domain name are inconsequential to Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) analysis. See Health Devices Corp. v.
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(i) has been satisfied.
The initial burden under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) is on Complainant to prove that Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Once Complainant has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to the directions provided in Policy ¶ 4(c). See Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires v. Greenpeace Int’l, D2001-0376 (WIPO May 14, 2001) (“Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purposes of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted on to the shoulders of Respondent. In those circumstances, the common approach is for respondents to seek to bring themselves within one of the examples of paragraph 4(c) or put forward some other reason why they can fairly be said to have a relevant right or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question.”); see also G.D. Searle v. Martin Mktg., FA 118277 (Nat. Arb. Forum Oct. 1, 2002) (“Because Complainant’s Submission constitutes a prima facie case under the Policy, the burden effectively shifts to Respondent. Respondent’s failure to respond means that Respondent has not presented any circumstances that would promote its rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”). The Panel finds that Complainant has presented a prima facie case, and Respondent receives the burden to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests under Policy ¶ 4(c).
No response has been submitted in this case. Therefore, the Panel may presume that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name. See CMGI, Inc. v. Reyes, D2000-0572 (WIPO Aug. 8, 2000) (finding that the respondent’s failure to produce requested documentation supports a finding for the complainant); see also Law Soc’y of Hong Kong v. Domain Strategy, Inc., HK-0200015 (ADNDRC Feb. 12, 2003) (“A respondent is not obligated to participate in a domain name dispute . . . but the failure to participate leaves a respondent vulnerable to the inferences that flow naturally from the assertions of the complainant and the tribunal will accept as established assertions by the complainant that are not unreasonable.”). However, the Panel will still examine the record in consideration of the factors listed under Policy ¶ 4(c).
The Panel finds no evidence in the record suggesting that Respondent is commonly known by the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name. Complainant asserts that Respondent has no license or agreement with Complainant authorizing Respondent to use the RBS mark, and the WHOIS information identifies Respondent as “Melvyn Ivy.” Thus, Respondent has not established rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Tercent Inc. v. Lee Yi, FA 139720 (Nat. Arb. Forum Feb. 10, 2003) (stating “nothing in Respondent’s WHOIS information implies that Respondent is ‘commonly known by’ the disputed domain name” as one factor in determining that Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) does not apply); see also Am. W. Airlines, Inc. v. Paik, FA 206396 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 22, 2003) (“Respondent has registered the domain name under the name ‘Ilyoup Paik a/k/a David Sanders.’ Given the WHOIS domain name registration information, Respondent is not commonly known by the [<awvacations.com>] domain name.”).
The <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name resolves to a website that fraudulently purports to be Complainant’s official website. Respondent is thus attempting to pass itself off as Complainant. The Panel also finds Respondent is using the deceptive website for “phishing” personal information from Complainant’s customers. See Capital One Fin. Corp. v. Howel, FA 289304 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 11, 2004) (defining “phishing” as “a practice that is intended to defraud consumers into revealing personal and proprietary information”). The Panel presumes Respondent is attempting to extract this personal information from unsuspecting consumers in order to defraud them. The Panel considers this use to constitute neither a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). See HOPE worldwide, Ltd. v. Jin, FA 320379 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 11, 2004) (finding that a domain name that “is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, redirects Internet users to a website that imitates Complainant’s website, and is used to acquire personal information from Complainant’s potential associates fraudulently” does not fall within the parameters of Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) or (iii)); see also Juno Online Servs., Inc. v. Iza, FA 245960 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 3, 2004) (finding that using a domain name to redirect “Internet users to a website that imitates Complainant’s billing website, and is used to fraudulently acquire personal information from Complainant’s clients,” is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use); see also Am. Int’l Group, Inc. v. Busby, FA 156251 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 30, 2003) (finding that the respondent attempts to pass itself off as the complainant online, which is blatant unauthorized use of the complainant’s mark and is evidence that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii) has been satisfied.
Respondent’s confusingly similar domain name diverts Internet users seeking Complainant to a website that purports to belong to Complainant. That such a website attempts to defraud these diverted Internet users highly suggests that Respondent’s primary purpose and objective was to disrupt Complainant’s operations for financial gain. Respondent may fairly be described as a competitor of sorts of Complainant, in that it acted in opposition to Complainant and to the detriment of Complainant’s business. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent has engaged in bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). See Mission KwaSizabantu v. Rost, D2000-0279 (WIPO June 7, 2000) (defining “competitor” as “one who acts in opposition to another and the context does not imply or demand any restricted meaning such as commercial or business competitor”); see also S. Exposure v. S. Exposure, Inc., FA 94864 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 18, 2000) (finding that the respondent registered the domain name in question to disrupt the business of the complainant, a competitor of the respondent); see also EthnicGrocer.com, Inc. v. Latingrocer.com, FA 94384 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 7, 2000) (finding bad faith where the respondent’s sites pass users through to the respondent’s competing business).
The Panel infers that the disputed domain name is being used as part of a phishing scheme. Respondent is attempting to commercially gain from the personal information gained through the confusingly similar <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name. The Panel finds this constitutes bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). See Juno Online Servs., Inc. v. Iza, FA 245960 (Nat. Arb. Forum May 3, 2004) (finding that using a domain name that “is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, redirects Internet users to a website that imitates Complainant’s billing website, and is used to fraudulently acquire personal information from Complainant’s clients” is evidence of bad faith registration and use); see also Kmart v. Khan, FA 127708 (Nat. Arb. Forum Nov. 22, 2002) (finding that if the respondent profits from its diversionary use of the complainant's mark when the domain name resolves to commercial websites and the respondent fails to contest the complaint, it may be concluded that the respondent is using the domain name in bad faith pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv)).
To engage in this phishing scheme, Respondent is attempting to pass itself off as Complainant by imitating Complainant’s official website. This demonstrates bad faith registration and use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Monsanto Co. v. Decepticons, FA 101536 (Nat. Arb. Forum Dec. 18, 2001) (finding that the respondent's use of <monsantos.com> to misrepresent itself as the complainant and to provide misleading information to the public supported a finding of bad faith); see also Vivendi Universal Games v. Ballard, FA 146621 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 13, 2002) (finding that where the complainant’s mark was appropriated at registration, and a copy of the complainant’s website was used at the domain name in order to facilitate the interception of the complainant’s customer’s account information, the respondent’s behavior evidenced bad faith use and registration of the domain name).
The Panel finds that Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) has been satisfied.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <rbssscot-uk.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Judge Harold Kalina (Ret.), Panelist
Dated: December 30, 2008
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