Synovus Financial Corp. v. Evgenii Taranenko
Claim Number: FA2002001885478
Complainant is Synovus Financial Corp. (“Complainant”), represented by Mary Grace Gallagher of Alston & Bird, LLP, United States. Respondent is Evgenii Taranenko (“Respondent”), Russia.
REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME
The domain name at issue is <synovuswealth.com>, registered with Registrar of Domain Names REG.RU LLC.
The undersigned certifies that he 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.
Alan L. Limbury, as Panelist.
Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on February 25, 2020. That day, the Forum received payment.
On February 26, 2020, Registrar of Domain Names REG.RU LLC confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <synovuswealth.com> domain name is registered with Registrar of Domain Names REG.RU LLC and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Registrar of Domain Names REG.RU LLC has verified that Respondent is bound by the Registrar of Domain Names REG.RU LLC registration agreement, the language of which is Russian, 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 26, 2020, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint in both English and Russian, setting a deadline of March 17, 2020 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 26, 2020, the Written Notice of the Complaint, in English and Russian, 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 March 20, 2020, pursuant to Complainant's request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Alan L. Limbury 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.
LANGUAGE OF THE PROCEEDING:
The <synovuswealth.com> domain name, registered on February 11, 2020, is confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered SYNOVUS trademark. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, which was registered and is being used in bad faith.
As to legitimacy, Complainant says that, without Complainant’s knowledge or consent, Respondent is currently using the domain name for a website prominently featuring the SYNOVUS marks and purporting to advertise a banking company, but is, upon information and belief, a company illegally attempting to trick Internet users into banking with Respondent’s company by creating an association or connection with Complainant. Respondent’s website makes such claims alleging a connection with Complainant:
1) “Powered by Synovus,”
2) “Deposits in these accounts are made with Synovus Bank & cleared by the Synovus Clearing Systems.”
3) “Accounts that are opened via www.synovuswealth.com and marketed by Synovus Bank.”
4) “© SYNOVUS WEALTH GROUP, POWERED BY SYNOVUS BANK-FDIC MEMBER.”
5) “For purposes of determining how much FDIC insurance is applicable to your accounts, you need to consider not only the www.synovuswealth.com online savings or CD accounts that you maintain, but also all other accounts you maintain at Synovus Bank.”
As to bad faith, Complainant says Respondent registered and uses the <synovuswealth.com> domain name in bad faith because Respondent uses the domain name to pass itself off as Complainant as part of a scam to attract Complainant’s customers to Respondent’s website and steal their money. Respondent has actual knowledge of Complainant’s SYNOVUS mark based upon the fame and notoriety of the mark, the banking-related nature of Respondent’s website, and Respondent’s use of the mark on its webpage.
Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.
Complainant has established all the elements entitling it to relief.
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 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.
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(f), 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 set forth in a complaint; however, the Panel may deny relief where a complaint contains mere conclusory or unsubstantiated arguments. See WIPO Jurisprudential Overview 3.0 at ¶ 4.3; see also eGalaxy Multimedia Inc. v. ON HOLD By Owner Ready To Expire, FA 157287 (Forum June 26, 2003) (“Because Complainant did not produce clear evidence to support its subjective allegations [. . .] the Panel finds it appropriate to dismiss the Complaint”).
Complainant owns numerous SYNOVUS and SYNOVUS-formative trademarks including United States registered trademark SYNOVUS, No. 4,517,546, registered on April 22, 2014 for banking services in Class 36.
The <synovuswealth.com> domain name comprises the entirety of Complainant’s SYNOVUS mark, which is well-known, together with the generic word “wealth” and the inconsequential gTLD “.com”, which may be ignored. The word “wealth” is insufficient to differentiate the domain name from the mark and indeed reinforces the impression that the domain name belongs to Complainant, a provider of banking services. The Panel finds the domain name to be confusingly similar to Complainant’s registered SYNOVUS trademark.
Complainant has established this element.
The SYNOVUS mark is distinctive and well-known. Complainant’s assertions are sufficient to constitute a prima facie showing of absence of rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name on the part of Respondent. The evidentiary burden therefore shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. See 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”).
Respondent has made no attempt to do so.
In the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
Complainant has established this element.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
In the absence of a Response, the Panel is satisfied on the evidence provided by Complainant that Respondent registered and uses the <synovuswealth.com> domain name in bad faith because Respondent uses the domain name to impersonate Complainant in furtherance of a phishing scheme for commercial gain.
Complainant has established this element.
Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.
Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <synovuswealth.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.
Alan L. Limbury, Panelist
Dated: March 26, 2020
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