UBS AG v. Aliu Kayode / Veerkay Inc
Claim Number: FA1902001828775
Complainant is UBS AG (“Complainant”), represented by Patrick J. Jennings of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, Washington DC, USA. Respondent is Aliu Kayode / Veerkay Inc (“Respondent”), Nigeria.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <ubsfinancialbank.info>, registered with Wild West Domains, LLC.
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.
Charles A. Kuechenmeister
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on February 6, 2019; the Forum received payment on February 6, 2019.
On February 7, 2019, Wild West Domains, LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <ubsfinancialbank.info> domain name (the Domain Name) is registered with Wild West Domains, LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Wild West Domains, LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the Wild West Domains, LLC registration agreement and has thereby agreed to resolve domain disputes brought by third parties in accordance with ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”).
On February 8, 2019, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint setting a deadline of February 28, 2019 by which Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint, via e-mail to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative, and billing contacts, and to email@example.com. Also on February 8, 2019, the Written Notice of the Complaint, notifying Respondent of the e-mail addresses served and the deadline for a Response, was transmitted to Respondent via post and fax to all entities and persons listed on Respondent’s registration as technical, administrative and billing contacts.
Having received no response from Respondent, the Forum transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default.
On March1, 2019, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Charles A. Kuechenmeister as Panelist.
Having reviewed the communications records, the Administrative Panel (the "Panel") finds that the 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" through submission of Electronic and Written Notices, as defined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Therefore, the Panel may issue its decision based on the documents submitted and in accordance with the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules, the 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.
Complainant has been using the UBS mark in connection with a wide range of financial services, including banking, investment banking, securities brokerage services, and lending services. Complainant has rights in the UBS mark through its registration of the mark with various governmental trademark authorities, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (e.g. Reg. No. 1,573,828, registered Dec. 26, 1989). Respondent’s Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark, as it incorporates Complainant’s UBS mark in its entirety, merely adding the generic terms “financial” and “bank,” and the “.info” generic top-level domain (“gTLD”).
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name. Respondent has no connection with Complainant, nor has Complainant authorized, licensed, or otherwise permitted Respondent to use its UBS mark. Respondent does not use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Rather, the web site resolving from the Domain Name impersonates and passes itself off as Complainant by displaying Complainant’s marks and a similar layout, while also purportedly offering the same financial services as Complainant. It also displays log-in and sign-on screens that could be used to steal the account numbers and passwords of Complainant’s customers.
Respondent registered and uses the Domain Name in bad faith. The Domain Name resolves to a web site that falsely suggests a partnership, connection, and affiliation with Complainant, confuse consumers, and capitalize on the fame and notoriety of Complainant and its UBS mark in the financial services marketplace. Respondent’s web site also phishes for consumer information through the use of a login and sign on screen. Further, Respondent had actual and constructive knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the UBS mark when it registered the Domain Name.
Respondent did not submit a Response in this proceeding.
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."
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that in order to obtain an order cancelling or transferring a domain name, Complainant must prove each of the following three elements:
(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.
In view of Respondent's failure to submit a response, pursuant to paragraphs 5(f), 14(a) and 15(a) of the Rules the Panel will decide this administrative proceeding on the basis of Complainant's undisputed representations 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 (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.”).
The Panel finds as follows with respect to the matters at issue in this proceeding.
Complainant registered its UBS mark with the USPTO (Reg. No. 1,573,828) on December 26, 1989. See, Complaint Annex 3.[i] Registration of a mark with the USPTO is sufficient to establish a complainant’s rights in the mark for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). Humor Rainbow, Inc. v. James Lee, FA 1626154 (Forum Aug. 11, 2015) (stating, “There exists an overwhelming consensus amongst UDRP panels that USPTO registrations are sufficient in demonstrating a complainant’s rights under Policy ¶4(a)(i) . . . .”).
Respondent’s Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark in that it incorporates Complainant’s mark in its entirety, merely adding the generic terms “financial” and “bank,” and the “.info” gTLD. These changes are not sufficient to distinguish the Domain Name from Complainant’s mark for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). MTD Products Inc v J Randall Shank, FA 1783050 (Forum June 27, 2018) (“The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark as it wholly incorporates the CUB CADET mark before appending the generic terms ‘genuine’ and ‘parts’ as well as the ‘.com’ gTLD.”).
For the reasons set forth above, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the UBS mark, in which Complainant has substantial and demonstrated rights.
Rights or Legitimate Interests
If a complainant makes a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), the burden of production shifts to respondent to come forward with evidence that it has rights or legitimate interests in it. Neal & Massey Holdings Limited v. Gregory Ricks, FA 1549327 (Forum Apr. 12, 2014) (“Under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii), Complainant must first make out a prima facie case showing that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in respect of an at-issue domain name and then the burden, in effect, shifts to Respondent to come forward with evidence of its rights or legitimate interests”). If a respondent fails to come forward with such evidence, the complainant’s prima facie evidence will be sufficient to establish that respondent lacks such rights or legitimate interests. If the respondent does come forward with such evidence, the Panel must assess the evidence in its entirety. At all times, the burden of proof remains on the complainant. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) at ¶ 2.1.
Policy ¶ 4(c) lists the following three nonexclusive circumstances, any one of which if proven can demonstrate a respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in a domain name for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii):
(i) before any notice to respondent of the dispute, respondent has used or has made 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) respondent (as an individual, business or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) 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.
Complainant asserts that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name because (i) it is not using the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services or for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use because it is using the name to divert Internet traffic to its web site, which mimics Complainant’s web site and phishes for private personal information, (ii) it is not commonly known by the Domain Name, and (iii) it is not a licensee or partner of Complainant, nor is it authorized to use Complainant’s mark. These allegations are supported by competent evidence.
The information provided to the Forum by the registrar lists the registrant as “Aliu Kayode,” and the registrant organization as “Veerkay Inc.” Neither of these names bears any resemblance to the Domain Name. UDRP panels have consistently held that evidence of a registrant name that is materially different from the domain name at issue is competent evidence that the respondent is not commonly known by the domain name. Guardair Corporation v. Pablo Palermo, FA1407001571060 (Forum Aug. 28, 2014) (holding that the respondent was not commonly known by the <guardair.com> domain name according to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii), as the WHOIS information lists “Pablo Palermo” as registrant of the disputed domain name).
Complainant states that Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant and that it has never licensed or authorized Respondent to use its mark in any way. Complainant has specific competence to make these statements, and they are unchallenged by any evidence before the Panel. In the absence of evidence that a respondent is authorized to use a complainant’s mark in a domain name or that a respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name, the respondent may be presumed to lack rights and legitimate interests in the domain name. IndyMac Bank F.S.B. v. Eshback, FA 830934 (Forum Dec. 7, 2006) (finding that the respondent failed to establish rights and legitimate interests in the <emitmortgage.com> domain name as the respondent was not authorized to register domain names featuring the complainant’s mark and failed to submit evidence that it is commonly known by the domain name).
Complaint Annex 4 is a screenshot of the web site resolving from the Domain Name. The pages of this site all display the name UBS Financial Bank, along with a logo that is not Complainant’s, and, using fonts and typestyles similar to those used on Complainant’s web site, purport to offer financial services such as banking, e-banking, credit cards, loans and wealth management, which are identical to the services offered by Complainant. One of the pages provides a place for a visitor to enter his or her log-in and password so as to log into the person’s account (with Complainant). This demonstrates two things: First, Respondent is using the Domain Name to divert Internet traffic seeking Complainant’s web site at <ubs.com> to its web site. Using a domain name to divert users looking for a complainant’s website does not qualify as a bona fide offering of goods or services for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the name for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). Bank of Am. Corp. v. Nw. Free Cmty. Access, FA 180704 (Forum Sept. 30, 2003) (“Respondent’s demonstrated intent to divert Internet users seeking Complainant’s website to a website of Respondent and for Respondent’s benefit 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).”).
Second, Respondent’s web pages appear for all intents and purposes to be sponsored by Complainant or an affiliate thereof. Respondent is impersonating and passing itself off as Complainant or a duly authorized affiliate. Using a confusingly similar domain name to impersonate or pass off as a complainant does not qualify as a bona fide offering of goods or services for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii). Mortgage Research Center LLC v. Miranda, FA 993017 (Forum July 9, 2007) (“Because [the] respondent in this case is also attempting to pass itself off as [the] complainant, presumably for financial gain, the Panel finds the respondent is not using the <mortgageresearchcenter.org> domain name for a bona fide offering of goods or services pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(i), or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(iii).”).
Complainant has made its prima facie case. On the evidence presented, and in the absence of any evidence from Respondent, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
(i) respondent has registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant which is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name;
(ii) respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct;
(iii) respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to respondent’s web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of respondent’s web site or location or of a product of service on respondent’s web site or location.
The evidence of Respondent’s uses of the Domain Name discussed above in connection with the rights or legitimate interests analysis also supports a finding of bad faith registration and use upon the foregoing grounds set forth in the Policy and upon additional grounds adopted by UDRP panels over the years. First, it is evident that Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name intentionally to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant and its UBS mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, and endorsement of that web site. This fits clearly within the circumstances articulated by Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv). Xylem Inc. and Xylem IP Holdings LLC v. YinSi BaoHu YiKaiQi, FA1504001612750 (Forum May 13, 2015) (“The Panel agrees that Respondent’s use of the website to display products similar to Complainant’s, imputes intent to attract Internet users for commercial gain, and finds bad faith per Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv).”).
Second, Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name to pass off as Complainant or an authorized affiliate. This is necessarily disruptive of Complainant’s business and, as Respondent purports to offer the same services as Complainant, it qualifies as a competitor. This conduct fits squarely within the circumstances articulated by Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii). LoanDepot.com, LLC v. Kaolee (Kay) Vang-Thao, FA1762308 (Forum Jan. 9, 2018) (Finding that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to offer competing loan services disrupts Complainant’s business under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii)).
Finally, it is evident from the close similarity between Complainant’s mark on the one hand and Respondent’s Domain Name and the extent to which its web site attempts to mimic and impersonate Complainant on the other that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant’s mark on January 28, 2019, when it registered the Domain Name. See, information furnished to the Forum by the registrar for registration date. The Policy recognizes that mischief can manifest in many different forms and takes an open-ended approach to bad faith, listing some examples without attempting to enumerate all its varieties. Worldcom Exchange, Inc. v. Wei.com, Inc., WIPO Case No. D-2004-0955 (January 5, 2005). The non-exclusive nature of Policy ¶ 4(b) allows for consideration of additional factors in an analysis for bad faith, and actual knowledge of a complainant’s rights in a mark prior to registering an identical or confusingly similar domain name has often been held to be evidence of bad faith registration and use for the purposes of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). Univision Comm'cns Inc. v. Norte, FA 1000079 (Forum Aug. 16, 2007) (rejecting the respondent's contention that it did not register the disputed domain name in bad faith since the panel found that the respondent had knowledge of the complainant's rights in the UNIVISION mark when registering the disputed domain name).
For the reasons set forth above, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).
Complainant having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <ubsfinancialbank.info> Domain Name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Charles A. Kuechenmeister, Panelist
March 4, 2019
[i] The registration certificate lists “Union Bank of Switzerland” as the owner of the trademark. The address stated for it is the same as that listed for Complainant in the Complaint and in additional registrations of the UBS mark by Complainant, e.g., Registration No. 3,623,958 dated May 19, 2009. The Panel takes notice that UBS is an accepted abbreviation of “Union Bank of Switzerland,” and this, together with the common address, is deemed sufficient evidence of Complainant’s rights in the mark.
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