Mediation center administrative panel decision




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ARBITRATION
AND
MEDIATION CENTER



ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION


Ritzio Purchase Limited v. Legato LLC / V. Zaharchenko / Jimmy McColin / Chernovsky Vladimir Sergeevich / Domain Admin, PrivacyProtect.org

Case No. D2015-1182



1. The Parties
The Complainant is Ritzio Purchase Limited of Nicosia, Cyprus, represented by Mapa Trademarks SL, Spain.
The Respondents are Legato LLC of Samara, the Russian Federation / V. Zaharchenko of Prague, Czech Republic / Jimmy McColin of Gibraltar / Chernovsky Vladimir Sergeevich of Luzhsky, the Russian Federation / Domain Admin, PrivacyProtect.org of Queensland, Australia (collectively the “Respondent”) represented by Boston Law Group, United States of America.

2. The Disputed domain names and Registrars
The disputed domain names , , , , and are registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com.
The disputed domain names , , and are registered with Regtime Ltd. (collectively the “Registrars”).

3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 8, 2015. On July 9, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On July 10, 2015, the Registrars transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on July 15, 2015 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrars, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on July 21, 2015.
Further to the Center’s language of proceedings communication in both English and Russian of July 24, 2015, both parties agreed on English as the language of the proceedings.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced July 31, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 20, 2015. The Response was filed with the Center on August 20, 2015.
On September 9, 21 and October 1, 2015, the Center received the Complainant’s supplemental filings. On September 13 and September 30, 2015, the Center received the Respondent’s supplemental filings.
The Center appointed Willem J. H. Leppink, Matthew S. Harris and Paul M. DeCicco as panelists in this matter on September 17, 2015. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of 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 parties submitted a large number of documents and, in particular, exhibits in this case. The Panel need not, and will not, summarize the massive record submitted here beyond what is necessary to reach and explain its decision in this case.
The Complainant is a company registered in Cyprus and is part of a business group that has been engaged in gaming and casino operations for over 20 years.
It would appear that until the mid-1990’s this group had substantial operations in the Russian Federation. However, (according to the uncontested claims of the Respondent in this respect), in 2009 all bricks and mortar gambling operations in the Russian Federation became illegal save in a limited number of government approved locations. At that point the Complainant withdrew its on-the-ground operations in that country.
Notwithstanding this physical withdrawal, the Complainant’s business group has continued to operate elsewhere in the world. Undisputed evidence which has been provided shows that it still has operations in the form of 200 branded gaming clubs throughout Europe; in particular in Germany, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Belarus and Latvia. From 2006 to 2010 its revenues amounted to in excess of USD 5.5 billion.
It would appear that some, if not all, of these various operations have been conducted under variants of a single VOLCANO brand. ВУЛКАН was used in the Russian Federation. ВУЛКАН in Cyrillic is the equivalent of “Vulkan” in roman script. VULKAN STERN was and is still used in Germany, while VULCANO DELLA FORTUNA has been used in Italy and VULCAN has been used in Belarus.
The Complainant is also the owner of a number of registered trademarks around the world that incorporate or comprise variants of this brand. Many of these trademarks are registered in the Russian Federation. However, they also include the following marks:
(i) International trademark no 791038 dated September 3, 2002 (based upon a Russian registration no. 216203 dated July 3, 2002) in class 41 designating 14 different states, all of which either form part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) or were historically part of the Soviet Union.
(ii) International trademark no 989103 dated August 11, 2008 (based upon a Russian registration no. 307879 dated June 2, 2006) for the word mark VOLCANO in classes 9, 16, 21, 25, 28, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43 and 45, designating Belarus, the European Community, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia and the Ukraine. The mark proceeded to grant unchanged in Belarus, Croatia and Serbia. In Kazakhstan it has been subject to provisional refusal. It has proceeded to grant in all other designated countries save for in respect of a modified set of goods and services. For example, the application proceeded to grant as a Community Trademark on September 3, 2012 in respect of goods and services in classes 16, 21, 25, 28, 35, 39, 41, 43, 45.
(iii) International trademark no 984297 dated August 11, 2008 (based upon a Russian registration no. 353692 dated June 25, 2008) for the word mark VULKAN in classes 9, 16, 21, 28, 32, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43 and 45, designating Belarus, the European Community, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia and the Ukraine. The mark proceeded to grant unchanged in Croatia but has been provisionally refused in Kazakhstan. It has proceeded to grant in all other designated countries in respect of a modified set of goods and services. For example, the application proceeded to grant as a Community Trademark on October 1, 2012 in respect of goods and services in classes 9, 16, 21, 28, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43 and 45.
The disputed domain names were registered on the following dates:
February 12, 2013

February 4, 2013

September 17, 2010

February 12, 2013

October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

June 19, 2013
The websites operating from the disputed domain names prominently feature the VOLCANO (design) marks.
Further, the following text appears on the “about” page of all of the websites:
“For many years, “Volcano” has held the position of the largest national network of gaming clubs. Name of the club has become almost synonymous with excitement, known to everyone who was somehow connected to the gaming industry. Due to the introduction in the Russian Federation of legislative restrictions, we focused on the World Wide Web. After the transfer of the main staff of the company abroad, our clubs have moved to a new level and became positioned as the online casino, because our clients are people who appreciate a truly interesting vacation, stay with us! We will continue our work in Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Belarus and many other countries.”
and
“The basis of our work has always been and will be our players, because it is with you we have built a perfect reputation and a name that is known all over the world.”
and
“Numerous one-day sites for the rapid and easy money often use the symbolism of our online casino, using well-known brand and reputation, but with us you can not worry. In order to fully protect yourself - Use only official service of our online casino, the list of which you can find here.”
There have been a number of previous UDRP decisions involving similar disputed domain names to those that are the subject matter of the current proceedings. In particular:
(i) EvoPlay LLC v. Mr Timur Ziganshin / Moniker Privacy Services / Timur, WIPO Case No. D2015 0222 in which the Complainant’s licensee brought proceedings in relation to the disputed domain names , , , and and ; and
(ii) EvoPlay LLP v. Mardiros Haladjian / GGS Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2015-0252 in which the Complainant’s licensee brought proceedings in relation to the disputed domain names and .
In each of these cases the complaint was denied.
In contrast, the Complainant succeeded in Ritzio Purchase Limited v. Whoisguard Protected, Whoisguard, Inc / Zhoselin-Patrick Mandzela, WIPO Case No. D2015-0295 in relation to the domain name . However, in that case the Respondent does not appear to have been involved and no response was filed.
The Complainant also succeeded in Ritzio Purchase Limited v. Domain Admin, PrivcayProtect.org / Timur Ziganshin / Lianna Tall, Escave Ltd / Private Whois, Global Domain Privacy Services Inc / Moniker Privacy Services, WIPO Case No. D2015-0875 in relation to the disputed domain names , , , , ,

and .

5. Parties’ Contentions
A. Complainant
The Complainant refers to its various registered trademarks and claims that by reason of its activities these marks are famous worldwide. It claims that each of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to those marks.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, and that the Complainant has not authorized or consented to the Respondent’s use of any of its trademarks. It maintains instead “that [the] Respondent simply acquired the [disputed domain names] in hopes of intentionally attracting, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion”. Further, it contends that none of the factors identified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy apply in this cases. It, therefore, claims that the Respondent has no right, or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
Similarly the Complainant contends that each of the disputed domain names was registered and used in bad faith. It claims that the use of the disputed domain names infringes its trademark rights. Further, it maintains that it is apparent from the websites operating from the disputed domain names that the Respondent is effectively pretending to be the Complainant, when it is not.
The Complainant also contends that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names falls within the scope of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has sought to hide its true identity, inter alia, through the use of privacy services and that this is again an indicator of bad faith.
B. Respondent
The Respondent begins its substantive response with referring to the two previous decisions in which claims against the Respondent or related parties in respect of similar disputed domain names failed. It claims that the arguments raised by the complainant in those cases were nearly identical to those in the current proceedings. The Respondent claims that for the same reasons given by the panels in those cases, the Complaint should be rejected. It also relies on the comments in paragraph 4.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (the “WIPO Overview 2.0”) as to the desirability that panel decisions under the policy are “consistent with prior panel decisions dealing with similar fact situations”.
So far as the substantive issues in this case are concerned, the Respondent contends that for many years gambling has been illegal in the Russian Federation. As a consequence of this, it is claimed that the Complainant’s Russian marks have not been used in Russia since at least 2009 and that to “the extent they claim protection for gambling services, the Russian Registrations are invalid due to abandonment and non-use and are subject to cancellation”. In this respect, the Respondent makes extensive submissions in relation to Russian gaming and intellectual property law.
The Respondent further claims that the Complainant’s various international registrations rely upon those invalid registrations and “may still be ‘dependent’ (and thus vulnerable to cancellation) upon the validity of their underlying Russian registrations”. The Respondent also appears to claim that the international registrations are invalid because the Complainant is a Cyprus corporation and therefore did not have “a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in Russia” at the time the marks were registered.
The Respondent also contends that outside of the Russian Federation many other entities use VOLCANO trademarks in respect of these services and this has “prevented [the] Complainant from registering such marks in several jurisdictions”.
The Respondent claims that when it registered the disputed domain names it did so “with the knowledge that trademark rights no longer could exist in the Russian Federation for any gambling-related activities”.
Further, the Respondent claims that the Complainant for many years either explicitly consented to third parties using its putative trademarks without any oversight or licensing, or simply did not care that third parties did so. The Respondent claims that Respondent and Asocial Games registered the disputed domain names and operated the websites at the disputed domain names for years in full view of the Complainant, who has taken no action until its putative licensee EvoPlay began to use the UDRP process to wrench away domain names from its legitimate competitors. GGS’s websites, EvoPlay’s websites and Asocial Games websites are very similar. Having at the very least impliedly consented to so many third parties using the marks for so many years in the same way that the Respondent and Asocial Games has been operating, the Complainant should not now be able to hijack the disputed domain names of successful websites to use for its own purposes. The Respondent therefore states that to the extent that the Complainant may possess any legitimate trademark right in the trademarks shown in the disputed registrations, the Complainant’s pattern of actions and inaction over the past four years constitute acquiescence and implied consent to the Respondent’s and Asocial Games’ use of those marks in the registration and operation of the disputed domain names.
The Respondent contends that the use of a privacy service in relation to the domain name registrations is of “no relevance” since there are legitimate reasons for using such services (citing WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature aka WWF International v. Moniker Online Services LLC and Gregory Ricks, WIPO Case No. D2006 0975).
Finally, the Respondent contends that this is a case where the Panel should make a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.
C. The Parties Supplemental Submissions
Both parties have submitted supplemental submissions in these proceedings. None of these were called for by the Panel. The position as to the admissibility of unsolicited supplemental submissions is addressed in paragraph 4.2 of the WIPO Overview 2.0 as follows:
“Consensus view: As the UDRP Rules grant the panel sole discretion to request further statements and determine the admissibility of evidence which may include an unsolicited filing, such filings, when received from a party, would typically be put before the panel upon the panel’s appointment - at no additional charge - for determination as to admissibility, and assessment of need for further procedural steps (if any). Normally in such cases, a panel would include a ruling on admissibility of any such received filings in its decision, or in the event that an opportunity to reply is offered to the other party, in an administrative panel order. Panels have discretion whether to accept an unsolicited supplemental filing from either party, bearing in mind the need for procedural efficiency, and the obligation to treat each party with equality and ensure that each party has a fair opportunity to present its case. The party submitting its filing would normally need to show its relevance to the case and why it was unable to provide that information in the complaint or response. Most panels that have allowed unsolicited filings have also tended to require some showing of ‘exceptional’ circumstances. Panels which accept a supplemental filing from one side typically allow the other party the opportunity to file a reply to such supplemental filing. In either scenario, or on its own initiative, a panel may in its discretion request further evidence, information or statements from one or other of the parties by way of administrative panel order.”
It should again be noted that the parties submitted a large number of documents, including exhibits in this matter. The Panel considers that many of these documents have or seem to have some relationship with the previous domain name disputes referred to above. The Complainant has been the same in some matters and at the time of filing the Complaint must have been aware of the cases in which its licensee was the complainant. Although there seems to be a strong relation between the respondents in all these dispute, including the Respondent in this Proceeding, the Panel will not take this as a fact. Those circumstances do not convince the Panel that the parties were not able to provide this information in the Complaint or the Response. The Panel will therefore not accept these unsolicited supplemental filings pursuant to paragraph 10 and 12 of the Rules. The parties are reminded that such unnecessary exchange of submissions is not only burdensome for the Panel, but also for the Center and this seriously jeopardizes the intended efficiency of the dispute resolution mechanism under the UDRP.

6. Discussion and Findings
To succeed in these proceedings the Complainant must make out its case in all respects under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. Namely, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (paragraph 4(a)(i)); and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names (paragraph 4(a)(ii)); and
(iii) the domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith (paragraph 4(a)(iii)).

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant must demonstrate that it has rights in a trademark and, if so, the disputed domain names must be shown to be identical or confusingly similar to the trademarks.


Each of the disputed domain names, can only be sensibly read as the term “Volcano” in combination with some non-distinguishing ordinary word such as “online” or “club” and “slot” which identify the core services rendered under the “.com” generic Top-Level-Domains (gTLDs).
The Panel also accepts that the term “Volcano” is virtually identical to the Complainant’s VULKAN word trademarks. Given this, the disputed domain names are each “confusingly similar” (as that term is understood under the Policy), with a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
This international registration and the marks that flow from it were initially based upon a Russian trademark. That Russian registration now appears (at least in part) to be subject to challenge. However, the Respondent’s attempt to cast doubt on the validity of the non-Russian marks because they “may still be” dependent on the original Russian registration is wholly unconvincing. The relevant international registration is over 5 years old and therefore under Article 6 of the Madrid Protocol these registrations are no longer dependent upon the original Russian marks. Therefore, even if the current invalidity proceedings are successful, the Complainant will still have registered trademarks for the term “Vulcan” elsewhere. The Respondent does not contend that these other marks are invalid for any other reason.
The ownership of a trademark registered with a recognized trademark office is sufficient for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy to show rights in a mark. As is recorded at paragraph 1.1 of the WIPO Overview 2.0:
“If the complainant owns a trademark, then it generally satisfies the threshold requirement of having trademark rights. The location of the trademark, its date of registration (or first use)…and the goods and/or services for which it is registered, are all irrelevant for the purpose of finding rights in a trademark under the first element of the UDRP. However, such factors may bear on a panel’s determination whether the respondent has registered and used the domain name in bad faith under the third element of the UDRP.”
In the circumstances, the Complainant has made out the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
The Panel notes that in both EvoPlay LLC v. Mr Timur Ziganshin / Moniker Privacy Services / Timur, WIPO Case No. D2015-0222 and EvoPlay LLP v. Mardiros Haladjian / GGS Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2015-0252 one of the issues that concerned the panels was the fact that the complainant in those cases (a putative licensee of the Complainant here) was not the owner of the marks relied upon. Instead, it claimed to be a licensee of the relevant marks and the scope and validity of that license appeared to be contested. This is not an issue in the present case as the Complainant is the registered owner of the relevant registered marks.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent’s claim in support of their having rights or legitimate interests is essentially that as the Complainant’s trademark rights are liable to revocation in the Russian Federation for non-use, the Respondent can as a matter of Russian law, legitimately adopt those trademarks in connection with its business in the Russian Federation without infringing any right of the Complainant. The Respondent therefore contends that it can lawfully use these disputed domain names in the Russian Federation and that consequentially the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the same.


As explained above, the Panel considers it inappropriate to venture upon a discussion as to whether the Complainant’s marks are, or are not, valid in the Russian Federation. In any event, it is prepared to assume (without deciding) in the Respondent’s favour that these marks are indeed invalid and unenforceable in the Russian Federation by reason of their non-use. However, it does not necessarily and inevitably follow from this that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
This Respondent’s argument assumes that simply because the use of a domain name cannot be stopped as a matter of local law in a particular country then the registrant must have a right or legitimate interest in that domain name. However, the Panel does not think this is right. It is not uncommon under the Policy for a complainant to own registered trademark rights in a term in a large number of countries and for that term also to be known in other countries where a mark has not yet been obtained. Should someone register and use a domain name that incorporates that term in a country where trademark rights do not yet exist with a view to taking unfair advantage of that reputation (for example to sell a competing product), it is unlikely that under the Policy the registrant will have a relevant right or legitimate interest. This is so, even if the complainant cannot demonstrate that the registrant’s use of the domain name is unlawful in a particular jurisdiction.
Of course, the present case is not one where the Complainant has not got round to applying for a mark in the Russian Federation. It is one where those marks have been obtained but are claimed to be invalid. But the point is that the existence of a right or legitimate interest for the purposes of the Policy and whether the use of a domain name is unlawful as a matter of local law is not necessarily the same thing.
This is a point that is also addressed in paragraph 4.15 of the WIPO Overview 2.0. This states as follows:
“Paragraph 15(a) of the UDRP provides that a panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the UDRP, the UDRP Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable. Rooted in generally-recognized principles of trademark law, and designed to operate in the context of the world wide web, the decision framework of the UDRP generally does not require resort to concepts or jurisprudence specific to national law (other than with respect to the question of whether trademark rights exist). For example, WIPO panels have recognized that bad faith under the UDRP may be assessed by reference to the consistent body of prior UDRP decisions.”
For rights or legitimate interests to exist under the Policy, usually something else other than mere absence of illegality is required. Non-exclusive examples of that “something else” are to be found in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. This states that any one of the following will demonstrate rights or legitimate interests:
“(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or 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;
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; and
(iii) you are 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.”
Paragraph 4(c)(iii) is not relevant in this case since the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names is commercial in nature. So far as paragraph 4(c)(ii) is concerned, the Respondent does not contend that it is commonly known by any of the disputed domain names or the term “Vulcan” nor is there any evidence in the record that supports such a position. Indeed, as the Panel goes on to address in greater detail in the context of the discussion of bad faith later on in this decision, it seems to be undisputed that the way in which the Respondent (or those to whom it has handed control of the disputed domain names) has conducted business is to represent to the Russian speaking public that the person responsible for the websites operating from the disputed domain names either is the Complainant or is in some manner the legitimate successor in business to the Complainant, when in reality it is not. One cannot claim to be commonly known by a name in circumstances where one is using that name to impersonate someone else.
Further, so far as paragraph 4(c)(i) is concerned, it appears to be undisputed that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s claimed rights when it registered and started to use the disputed domain names. Accordingly, it is highly questionable whether the Respondent’s use was before notice of the relevant dispute. Further and in any event, the Panel is of the view that the use of a name or trademark so as to impersonate another does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy. Indeed, such activity is usually seen as an indicator that rights or legitimate interests do not exist (see, for example, Saks & Company v. saksfifthavenue-hours.net, WIPO Case No. D2014-1194).
The Panel also notes that the Respondent contends at great length that gambling in the Russian Federation is illegal. The Panel is not in a position to conclude as to whether this is right or wrong. This is precisely the sort of issue which is ill suited to determination under the UDRP. Nevertheless, it is worth recording that this is an argument which if correct, undermines rather than supports the Respondent’s case.
As far as the Panel can tell, this argument as to the legality of gambling law is advanced to provide the reason why the Complainant cannot have used its marks in the Russian Federation for a number of years and therefore why its Russian marks must be invalid. As has already been explained, even if the Panel would be prepared to accept for the purposes of these proceedings that the Complainant’s marks are invalid based on the illegality of gambling in the Russian Federation, given that the Respondent’s activities also involve gambling and are primarily directed to persons in the Russian Federation, it follows that the Respondent’s own activities are also illegal.
Therefore, it would appear that the Respondent is trying to contend that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names because its activities are not contrary to Russian trademark law even though it posits that those same activities are illegal as a matter of Russian law. The Respondent cannot simultaneously have its cake and eat it.
In the circumstances, the Panel finds that Complainant has made out the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Despite the extensive arguments put forward by the Respondent, there appears to be no real dispute that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s marks at the time that the disputed domain names were registered and has essentially set up websites that are intended to lead Internet users to believe that these have been set up by the Complainant or by an entity that is the Complainant’s successor in business.


This is apparent not only from the fact that the websites prominently display the VOLCANO design mark, but also from the text that appears on these websites.
The statement that “‘Volcano’ has held the position of the largest network of gaming clubs” is clearly a reference to the Complainant. As such this text provides clear evidence as to both the reputation of the Complainant’s marks and the Respondent’s own knowledge of the Complainant’s marks. Further, the text that follow this and in particular the assertions that these clubs have now “moved to a new level and become positioned as the online casino”, that they have continuing operations in Germany, Italy and elsewhere, and that these websites are the “official service”, can only be sensibly understood as amounting to a claim that the operator of these websites is either the business that used to run the Complainant’s “network of gaming clubs” or somehow connected or authorized by the entity that did.
The Respondent contends that the Complainant has consented to the registration and use of the disputed domain names in this manner. Were this true, that would most likely provide an answer to the Complainant’s claims in this case. However, there is no real evidence before the Panel to this effect. Although an affidavit is provided from a Mr. Sevostianov, his statements in that affidavit to this effect are little more than a bare assertion. No further explanation, elaboration or evidence as to exactly what form such consent took is provided. There is a reference to joint venture discussions, but it is not alleged that the Respondent’s activities have been pursuant to such a joint venture and the mere fact that one enters into joint venture discussions with someone does not mean that one is implicitly, let alone explicitly, consenting to their activities to that date.
Further, Mr. Sevostianov evidence relates to the Complainant’s dealings with GGS Limited; i.e. the operator of the relevant websites in Ritzio Purchase Limited v. Domain Admin, PrivcayProtect.org / Timur Ziganshin / Lianna Tall, Escave Ltd / Private Whois, Global Domain Privacy Services Inc / Moniker Privacy Services, WIPO Case No. D2015-0875. The operator of the websites in this case is not GGS Limited but Asocial Games. There is no evidence before the Panel to suggest that at any time the Complainant consented to Asocial Games’ activities.
At its heart, therefore, and despite the extensive argument and submissions filed by both parties, ultimately this is a relatively simple case of impersonation. The Respondent (or at least persons on behalf of whom the Respondent has registered the disputed domain names) has registered and is using the disputed domain names in order to pass themselves off as the Complainant (or in some way authorized by the Complainant) when it is not, in order to thereby draw Internet users to gambling websites for commercial gain. Registration and use of a domain name for such a purpose is a classic example of registration and use in bad faith. So far as use is concerned it is activity that falls within the scope of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Whether such impersonation and passing off offends against Russian trademark law the Panel is not in a position to say. However, in the opinion of the Panel even if it does not offend against Russian law, that does not prevent a finding of bad faith registration and use in this case.
In the circumstances, the Panel concludes that Complainant has made out the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
D. Reverse Domain Name Hijacking
The Respondents request a finding of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking which is defined as “using the Policy in bad faith in attempt to deprive a registered domain name holder of a domain name”. In view of the Panel’s finding under the three elements of the Policy, the Panel also denies the Respondents’ request.

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 names , , , , , , , , and be transferred to the Complainant.

Willem J. H. Leppink

Presiding Panelist



Matthew S. Harris

Panelist


Paul M. DeCicco

Panelist


Date: October 10, 2015



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