Administrative panel decision mr. Ravi Puravankara, Chairman of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited V. Sam Singh




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ARBITRATION
AND
MEDIATION CENTER




ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Mr. Ravi Puravankara, Chairman of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited v. Sam Singh

Case No. D2015-1172



1. The Parties

Complainant is Mr. Ravi Puravankara, Chairman of M/s. Puravankara Projects Limited of Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, represented by R. Sathish Kumar, India.


Respondent is Sam Singh of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).




3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 8, 2015. On July 8, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On July 8, 2015, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 14, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 3, 2015. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 4, 2015.
The Center appointed David Perkins as the sole panelist in this matter on August 13, 2015. 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



4.A Complainant
4.A.1 Complainant is the founder and Chairman of Puravankara Projects Limited (“Puravankara” or “the Company”). That company was incorporated under the name “Puravankara Construction Private Limited” on June 3, 1996 and changed to its current name on August 19, 1992.
4.A.2 Mr. Puravankara is in the business of design, development, construction and marketing of residential and commercial projects. It has real estate projects in all major cities in India and also has a presence in Colombo, Sri Lanka and in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It also has a joint venture with Keppel Land Limited of Singapore. It is listed on both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange. It is a highly successful real estate developer and, Complainant states, is known in business circles and by the public as “Puravankara”. Exhibited to the Complaint are a selection of press reports relating to the Company describing the extent of its business, listing its achievements and various industry awards. Those reports also feature articles on Complainant as the founder and Chairman of the Company and his son, Ashish Puavankara, the Managing Director of the Company.
The PURAVANKARA trade marks
4.A.3 Puravankara is the proprietor of the following trade marks registered in India:


Registration No.:

Mark:

Classes of Goods & Services:

Date Registered:

1,182,587

PURAVANKARA PROJECTS LIMITED

19

March 12, 2003

1,182,588

PURAVANKARA

19

March 12, 2003

1,266,089

PURAVANKARA

37

February 9, 2004

1,266,090

PURAVANKARA PROJECTS LIMITED and “P” logo

37

February 9, 2004

1,474,154

PURAVANKARA

7, 19 & 37

July 28, 2006

1,591,995

PURAVANKARA and logo

35

August 20, 2007

1,591,997

PURAVANKARA and logo

36

August 20, 2007

1,591,998

PURAVANKARA and logo

39

August 20, 2007


The PURAVANKARA domain names
4.A.4 The Complaint exhibits 162 domain names incorporating the name “Puravankara” owned by the Company. The earliest such domain name,
, was registered on February 7, 1997 and, the Complaint says, has been active since then. The website to which it resolves won the website award in the Realty Plus Awards in 2014.
4.A.5 As noted in paragraph 4.A.2 above, Complainant himself has received widespread press coverage and publicity as the founder and owner of Puravankara. Exhibited to the Complaint is a Wikipedia page dedicated to him and his listing in the Forbes list of billionaires in 2009. Also exhibited are a number of business awards received by Complainant.
4.B Respondent
4.B.1 In the absence of a Response, what is known of Respondent is derived from the Complaint and its exhibits. Respondent is the registrant of the disputed domain name, which was created on October 9, 2014.
4.B.2 The disputed domain name resolves to a website captioned “Puravankara Complaints (Puravankara.com)” dated May 20, 2015. The text reads as follows:
“Register your Puravankara Complaints here (Puravankara.com) Puravankara is one of the big giants of Indian real estate. But just like others fraud, extortion and scam run deep in the offerings/management of this company. This portal is committed to address the complainant’s of Puravankara’s customers who have been ditched and cheated by the Indian Real Estate companies.
Please post your experiences and complaints here.”
4.B.3 The Complaint cites Puravankara Projects Limited v. Saurabh Singh, WIPO Case No. D2014-2054; which was successfully brought by Puravankara against Saurabh Singh of Homebush, New South Wales, Australia. The domain name at issue in that case,
, also resolved to a purported criticism website. The Complaint suggests that the name and address of the Respondent in that case are “eerily similar” to the Registrant details of the disputed domain name in this case.

5 Parties’ Contentions
5.A Complainant
Identical or confusingly similar
5.A.1 Complaint asserts that Complainant has trade mark rights in his name, Ravi Puravankara, by virtue of his notoriety as the Founder and Chairman of Puravankara. The evidence in support of that is summarised in paragraphs 4.A.1 to 5 above.
5.A.2 Complaint cites a number of Decisions under the Policy where individuals, who have achieved celebrity status and have used their personal names in commerce, have been found to have trade mark rights in those names. For example, Barkha Dutt v. Easy Ticket , WIPO Case No. D2009-1247, Ms. Dutt being a celebrity broadcaster and journalist hosting a daily show entitled “The Buck Stops Here” and the anchor for a TV talk show “We the People”; Peter Frampton v. Frampton Enterprises, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0141, the rock star Pete Frampton having used his name extensively since 1967 in relation to promoting his music related goods and services; and Adam Leitman Bailey v. Erwin Rohman, WIPO Case No. D2013-1090, where the complainant was an eminent New York real estate lawyer who operated under the name “Adam Leitman Bailey PC”.
5.A.3 In the circumstances, Complainant asserts common law trade mark rights in his personal name, Ravi Puravankara.
5.A.4 Complainant’s case is that the disputed domain name is identical to his personal name and confusingly similar to the registered trade mark rights of the Company which he founded, of which he is Chairman and with which he is identified by both the real estate industry and the public.
Rights or legitimate interests
5.A.5 Complainant’s case is that Respondent cannot demonstrate that any of the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy apply. First, since the disputed domain name is identical to Complainant’s personal name and confusingly similar to the name and PURAVANKARA mark of the company with which he is associated, use of that domain name can be neither bona fide, nor a legitimate fair or noncommercial use. Second, Respondent is not offering any goods or services under the disputed domain name. Third, use being made of the disputed domain name is with a view to defaming and denigrating Complainant and his Company and thereby tarnish his personal trade mark rights and the registered trade mark rights of the Company, it’s brand image and integrity. The PURAVANKARA trade mark and family name are inextricably linked and, Complainant says, manifestly Respondent cannot have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
5.A.6 In this respect, Complainant also relies on the Decisions in the three cases brought under the Policy referred to in paragraph 5.A.2 above.
5.A.7 Complainant also relies on View 1 in paragraph 2.4 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”). This is that the right to criticise does not necessarily extend to registering and using a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s trade mark. This is especially the case if the respondent is using the trade mark alone as the domain name (i.e.,) as that maybe understood by Internet users as impersonating the trade mark owner. In this case, as noted above, the disputed domain name is identical to Complainant’s personal name in which Complainant asserts common law trade mark rights.
Registered and used in bad faith
5.A.8 Here, as to bad faith use of the disputed domain name, Complainant cites the above View 1 in paragraph 2.4 of the WIPO Overview 2.0. In that respect, Complainant relies on and quotes extensively from the majority decision in Yellowstone Mountain Club LLC v. Offshore Limited, WIPO Case No. D2013 0097 in relation to two of the three disputed domain names, which were being used for criticism sites, namely and . That majority decision adopted the panelist’s conclusion in The LaurelPub Company Ltd. v. Peter Robertson/Turfdata, WIPO Case No. DTV 2004-0007. The complainant in that case operated 75 pubs in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland under the name “Hogshead”. The domain name was registered and resolved to a criticism website operated by the respondent, a former employee of the complainant. The panelist concluded as follows:
“The Panel recognises that the Respondent has a right to free speech and a legitimate right to host a complaint site about the Complainant on the Internet. However, in the view of the Panel this is a completely different thing and should not be confused with having a legitimate right to the domain name in question in this case.”
5.A.9 As to registration in bad faith, Complainant says that the fact that Respondent is using the disputed domain name for a criticism site indicates his knowledge of Complainant and his Company. Given the well known status of Complainant’s personal name and that of the Puravankara Group of Companies, Complainant says that registration of the disputed domain name cannot have been in good faith.
5.A.10 Complainant also refers to the “eerily similar” nature of this case with the decision in Puravankara Projects Limited v. Saurabh Singh referred to in paragraph 4.B.3 above.
5.B Respondent
As noted above, no Response has been filed.

6 Discussion and Findings
6.1 The Policy paragraph 4(a) provides that Complainant must prove each of the following in order to succeed in an administrative proceeding
(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
6.2 The Policy paragraph 4(c) sets out circumstances which, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved shall demonstrate Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in issue.
6.3 The Policy paragraph 4(b) sets out circumstances which, again in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
6.4 As stated, the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(b) and 4(c) of the Policy are not exhaustive. They are without limitation. That is, the Policy expressly recognizes that other circumstances can be evidence relevant the requirements of paragraphs 4(a)(ii)  (iii) of the Policy.
Identical or confusingly similar
6.5 With reference to paragraph 1.6 of the WIPO Overview 2.0, it is clear to the Panel that Complainant’s surname is used in commerce as the corporate name and identifier for the Puravankara Group of Companies and that Complainant himself is a very well-known businessperson. As asserted by Complainant, the PURAVANKARA trade mark and Complainant’s personal name are inextricably linked: See, paragraph 5.A.5 above. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that Complainant has trade mark rights in his personal name, Ravi Puravankara.
6.6 Complainant’s common law trade mark rights in his personal name are identical to the disputed domain name. Additionally, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the registered trade mark rights of the Company of which Complainant is the founder and with which his name is commonly associated.
6.7 Accordingly, the Complaint meets the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy
Rights or legitimate interests
6.8 The Panelist adheres to View 1 in paragraph 2.4 of the WIPO Overview 2.0 and follows the majority view in Yellowstone Mountain Club LLC v. Offshore Limited referred to in paragraph 5.A.8 above. The Panel also adopts the views expressed by the panels in the cases cited in paragraph 5.A.2 above.
6.9 In any event, as to View 2, (which is also set out in paragraph 2.4 of the WIPO Overview 2.0), there is no evidence that the use of the site is legitimate criticism, rather the reverse. The wording on the site inviting comment accuses Puravankara and, by association, Complainant of “fraud, extortion and scam” without providing any basis (let alone evidence) for such very serious allegations.
6.10 Accordingly, the Panel finds Complainant’s case summarised in paragraphs 5.A.5 to 8 above well made out and that the Complaint meets the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy
Registered and used in bad faith
6.11 If Complainant’s case demonstrates applicability of any of the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(b)(i)  (iv) of the Policy, the facts and arguments summarised in section 5.A above indicate applicability of paragraph 4(b)(iv).
6.12 However, as the Policy states, the circumstances set out in paragraph 4(b) are “without limitation”. Whether or not there is any connection between the Respondent in this case and “Saurabh Singh” in Puravankara Projects Limited v. Saurabh Singh, the Panel takes the view that Respondent’s actions in registering and using the disputed domain name in this case are redolent with bad faith. As noted in paragraphs 4.B.2 and 6.9 above, the wording on the site inviting comment prejudges any potential fair criticism or comment by the use of inflammatory language accusing Puravankara and, by association, Complainant of “fraud” etc. In other words, rather than a critical platform for debate, the site seems aimed merely at tarnishing the Complainant’s reputation.

6.13 In the circumstances, the Panel has no hesitation in finding that Complainant succeeds under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.



7. Decision
For all 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 be transferred to Complainant.

David Perkins

Sole Panelist



Date: August 14, 2015



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