#IKEA impostor #domain lost in #UDRP at the #WIPO

When scammers use punycode to register impostor domains of famous brands, the UDRP outcome is an expected win for the Complainant.

Inter Ikea Systems B.V. of Delft, Netherlands, filed a UDRP against the registrant of ıĸea.com, a domain containing non-ASCII characters.

The actual domain is xn--ea-gpa2a.com and was registered last October. Apparently, it was set up to fool visitors, passing off as an IKEA web site.

According to the UDRP complaint:

“As to bad faith use the Complainant alleges, and provides screen shots demonstrating, that the Respondent has in the past used the disputed domain name to link to a website involved in a “phishing” scheme and other malicious activity.”

Using characters from other character sets to form a visual amalgam of a domain, is a common method to perform nefarious or malicious tasks via a web site.

The sole panelist, Nicolas Ulmer, found the Respondent guilty of bad faith registration of the domain, ordering it to be transferred to the Complainant.

Full details on this case follow:

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Inter Ikea Systems B.V. v. Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp.
Case No. D2017-2211

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Inter Ikea Systems B.V. of Delft, Netherlands, represented by Petillion, Belgium.

The Respondent is Domain Admin, Whois Privacy Corp. of Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <ıĸea.com> is registered with Internet Domain Service BS Corp (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 9, 2017. On November 9, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 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 November 16, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 6, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 7, 2017.

The Center appointed Nicolas Ulmer as the sole panelist in this matter on January 5, 2018. 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 part of a large and well-known international retailing group active in the home furnishing business; according to the Complaint the Complainant’s franchisee network represents 340 stores in 28 countries, making it the largest such network in the world.

The Complainant is the right holder of numerous trademarks in numerous classes for IKEA, including a Swedish trademark (number 130989, registered on April 17, 1970), a United States (US) trademark (number 1661360, registered on October 22, 1991) and a European Union (EU) trademark (number 000109652, registered on October 1, 1998).

The Complainant makes use of these trademarks in connection with its business, including on a number of websites such as “www.ikea.com”, “www.ikea.us” and “www.ikea.eu”, as well as in significant advertising and promotion.

The disputed domain name was registered on October 29, 2017, and originally resolved to a website comporting a survey which the Complainant believes was used for phishing activities. It currently resolves to an inactive website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are here readily met. Specifically, the Complainant alleges that: the Respondent made use of Punycode to register the disputed domain name with non-ASCII characters to create a domain name that is virtually identical to the Complainant’s trademark; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name; and that the Respondent can only have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith and with knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark and business. As to bad faith use the Complainant alleges, and provides screen shots demonstrating, that the Respondent has in the past used the disputed domain name to link to a website involved in a “phishing” scheme and other malicious activity.

Thereupon the Complainant request that the disputed domain name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name is naturally read as containing the entirety of the Complainant’s well-known and registered trademark. In fact, as explained in the Complaint there are minor differences due to the fact that the disputed domain name was registered using Punycode and is therefore not composed of ASCII English script. Thus, the disputed domain name <ıĸea.com> does not comport a dot on the “i” of “ikea” and the “k” in the disputed domain name is shaped like a small capital K. These differences are almost imperceptible, and the use of Punycode to create a domain name indistinguishable from a well-known trademark manifestly does not prevent a finding of identity or confusing similarity between the two. See, e.g., Dogan Internet Yayincili¨gli Ve Yatirim Anonim Sirketi v. Moniker Privacy Services/H A Lempka-Alpha Domains, WIPO Case No. D2013-2244. It is furthermore well established that the generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) can or should be disregarded when comparing the similarities between a domain name and a trademark.

The disputed domain name is virtually identical to the Complainant’s trademark, and is certainly confusingly similar to it; the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been established.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

UDRP decisions and jurisprudence establish that a complainant must demonstrate at least a prima facie case showing that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. See Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455. Once such a prima facie case is made, the burden shifts to the respondent to demonstrate that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. See also, Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. v. “osama bin laden”, WIPO Case No. DCO2014-0002; H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB v. Simon Maufe, Akinsaya Odunayo Emmanuel and Nelson Rivaldo, WIPO Case No. D2014-0225; WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), Section 2.1.

In the instant case, the Complainant clearly asserts that it has never authorized the Respondent to use its trademarks in the disputed domain name or otherwise, and that it has no knowledge or belief of any rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in the disputed domain name. Furthermore, there is no evidence or indicia in the file of this case that would suggest that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or has rights or legitimate interests in it.

The Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, which has not been rebutted by the Respondent; the Complainant has therefore met its burden under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

At the time of the registration of the disputed domain name the Complainant’s trademark and business had both been very well-known for many years; it is not plausible that the Respondent stumbled on the name in the disputed domain name, much less its relevant Punycode, by chance or serendipity. This alone strongly suggests a bad faith registration, with the motive of making use of the disputed domain name to deceive Internet users into believing that the website linked to the disputed domain name was linked to the Complainant and its brand.

This is confirmed by the evidence submitted as to the use of the disputed domain name. The Complainant alleges and submits evidence to the effect that the website to which the disputed domain name originally resolved informed users that they could win a free voucher from the Complainant’s Group if they completed a survey on the website. The Complainant believes that this survey information was used for “phishing”, and the Complainant issued a statement warning Internet users not to engage with this link found on the website. The disputed domain name thereafter resolved to an inactive website.

The Respondent’s use of a privacy service to mask its identity is potential further indicia of bad faith use.

In sum, there does not appear to be any good faith explanation for the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name.

It follows that the Complainant has proven bad faith registration and use within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <ıĸea.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Nicolas Ulmer
Sole Panelist
Date: January 17, 2018


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