Wednesday , August 17 2022

Regions Bank grabbed a 16 year old #domain name :DomainGang

Reions.com is a domain registered in 2005. From archived captures of the domain provided by Screenshots.com we can see that it was parked all its life, sometimes displaying content related to Regions Bank and other bank-related terms.

Eventually, Regions Bank filed a UDRP at the National Arbitration Forum, to which the registrant of the domain did not respond.

As part of the UDRP, the Complainant claimed that the domain is being used for phishing purposes, citing as an example that the subdomain onepass.reions.com is used to phish information from the users of onepass.regions.com.

As far as we can tell, that claim is odd, as any subdomain under reions.com forwards to the same zero click lander, currently a Wayfair ad. Perhaps it’s a convenient claim by the Complainant, in order to establish that “reions” is infringing on its REGIONS mark.

The sole panelist delivered a decision favoring the Complainant, ordering the domain Reions.com to be transferred.

Moral of the story: don’t use zero click landers for your parked domains.

Regions Bank v. Domain Administrator / Fundacion Privacy Services LTD

Claim Number: FA2103001937720

PARTIES

Complainant is Regions Bank (“Complainant”), represented by Rachel Hofstatter of Honigman LLP, District of Columbia, USA. Respondent is Domain Administrator / Fundacion Privacy Services LTD (“Respondent”), Panama.

REGISTRAR AND DISPUTED DOMAIN NAME

The domain name at issue is <reions.com>, registered with Media Elite Holdings Limited.

PANEL

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.

Petter Rindforth as Panelist.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Complainant submitted a Complaint to the Forum electronically on March 23, 2021; the Forum received payment on March 23, 2021.

On March 24, 2021, Media Elite Holdings Limited confirmed by e-mail to the Forum that the <reions.com> domain name is registered with Media Elite Holdings Limited and that Respondent is the current registrant of the name. Media Elite Holdings Limited has verified that Respondent is bound by the Media Elite Holdings Limited 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 March 25, 2021, the Forum served the Complaint and all Annexes, including a Written Notice of the Complaint, setting a deadline of April 14, 2021 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 protected] Also on March 25, 2021, 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 April 19, 2021, pursuant to Complainant’s request to have the dispute decided by a single-member Panel, the Forum appointed Petter Rindforth 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.

RELIEF SOUGHT

Complainant requests that the domain name be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.

PARTIES’ CONTENTIONS

A. Complainant

The Complainant operates one of the [US] nation’s largest full-service financial institutions. Complainant has rights in the REGIONS trademark through its registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) (e.g., Reg. 1,881,600, registered Feb. 28, 1995). Respondent’s <reions.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s REGIONS trademark, only differing by omission of the letter “g” addition of the “.com” generic top-level domain (“gTLD”).

Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <reions.com> domain name as it is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and is neither an authorized user nor licensee of the REGIONS trademark. Additionally, Respondent does not use the disputed domain name to make any bona fide offering of goods or services, for any legitimate noncommercial or fair use. Instead, Respondent uses the disputed domain name to host a website featuring advertisements and links to competitors of Complainant’s business. Additionally, Respondent is likely using a subdomain to attempt to phish for login information of Complainant’s customers.

Respondent registered and uses the <reions.com> domain name in bad faith. Respondent uses the disputed domain name to host advertisements and links to services which compete directly with Complainant’s business. Respondent has also listed the disputed domain name for sale through a domain name reseller. Respondent’s use of a subdomain confusingly similar to Complainant’s own customer portal is also indicative of Respondent’s attempt to operate a phishing scheme. Additionally, Respondent registered the disputed domain name with actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the REGIONS trademark.

B. Respondent

Respondent failed to submit a Response in this proceeding.

FINDINGS

The Complainant is the owner of the following U.S. trademark registrations:

No. 1,881,600 REGIONS (word), registered February 28, 1995 for services in class 36;

No. 1,914,267 REGIONS (fig), registered August 22, 1995 for services in class 36;

No. 3,406,071 REGIONS (fig), registered April 1, 2008 for services in class 36;

No. 3,406,072 REGIONS (fig), registered April 1, 2008 for services in class 36;

No. 3,505,814 REGIONS (fig), registered September 23, 2008 for services in class 36; and

No. 4,796,098 REGIONS ONEPASS (word), registered August 18, 2015 for services in class 36.

The disputed domain name was registered on July 3, 2005.

DISCUSSION

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”).

Identical and/or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant asserts rights in the REGIONS trademark through its registration with the USPTO. Registration of a trademark with a trademark agency is generally sufficient to demonstrate rights in a mark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Liberty Global Logistics, LLC v. damilola emmanuel / tovary services limited, FA 1738536 (Forum Aug. 4, 2017) (stating, “Registration of a mark with the USPTO sufficiently establishes the required rights in the mark for purposes of the Policy.”). Complainant provides evidence of its registration with the USPTO (e.g., Reg. 1,881,600, registered Feb. 28, 1995). The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has rights in the REGIONS trademark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).

Complainant argues that Respondent’s <reions.com> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s REGIONS trademark, merely omitting the letter “g” within the trademark and adding the “.com” gTLD. Such changes do not negate confusing similarity between a domain name and a trademark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i). See Klein Tools, Inc. v. chenxinqi, FA 1617328 (Forum July 6, 2018) (finding that the <klentools.com> domain name is confusingly similar to the KLEIN TOOLS mark as it contains the entire KLEIN TOOLS mark and merely omits the letter “l” and adds the “.com” generic top-level domain (“gTLD”)). Thus, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark under Policy ¶ 4(a)(i).

Rights or Legitimate Interests

Once the Complainant makes a prima facie case in support of its allegations in respect of the second element of the Policy, the burden shifts to the Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See AOL LLC v. Gerberg, FA 780200 (Forum Sept. 25, 2006) (“Complainant must first make a prima facie showing that Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interest in the subject domain names, which burden is light. If Complainant satisfies its burden, then the burden shifts to Respondent to show that it does have rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain names.”).

Complainant argues that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the <reions.com> domain name as Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and is neither an authorized user nor licensee of the REGIONS trademark. When no response is submitted, relevant WHOIS information may demonstrate that a Respondent is not commonly known by a disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii). See Kohler Co. v. Privacy Service, FA1505001621573 (Forum July 2, 2015) (holding that the respondent was not commonly known by the disputed domain name pursuant to Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii) where “Privacy Service” was listed as the registrant of the disputed domain name). Here, the WHOIS information on record indicates the registrant utilized a privacy service, as it merely lists “Domain Administrator / Fundacion Privacy Services LTD” as the registrant. Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(ii).

Complainant also argues that Respondent does not use the <reions.com> domain name for any bona fide offering of goods or services, nor for any legitimate noncommercial or fair use, but instead hosts a parked website offering advertisements and links to competitors of the Complainant. Using an infringing domain name to divert Internet users to a complainant’s competitors does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor does it equate to a legitimate noncommercial or fair use under Policy ¶¶ 4(c)(i) and (iii). See Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. v. domain admin / private registrations aktien gesellschaft, FA1506001626253 (Forum July 29, 2015) (“Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a web page containing advertising links to products that compete with those of Complainant. The Panel finds that this does not constitute a bona fide offering or a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.”). Complainant provides screenshots of the resolving website for the disputed domain name as evidence of Respondent’s use. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(c)(i) and (iii).

Complainant further alleges that Respondent uses a subdomain of the <reions.com> domain name in furtherance of a phishing scheme. This subdomain, <onepass.reions.com> is nearly identical to Complainant’s own customer login page located at <onepass.regions.com>. Complainant argues that Respondent may use this subdomain in the future to attempt to steal customer login information. Such use does not confer any rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii). See Morgan Stanley v. Zhange Sheng Xu / Zhang Sheng Xu, FA1501001600534 (Forum Feb. 26, 2015) (“The Panel agrees that the respondent’s apparent phishing attempt provides further indication that the respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).”). Complainant provides a screenshot of the blocked subdomain as evidence of Respondent’s fraudulent intent. Having in mind that the said subdomain, although not part of this dispute/case, is connected to the disputed domain name and thereby indicating further the bad faith intentions of the Respondent, the Panel agrees that Respondent was attempting to phish for Internet users’ personal and financial information, and thus finds Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under Policy ¶ 4(a)(ii).

Registration and Use in Bad Faith

The Complainant argues that Respondent has listed the <reions.com> domain name for sale. This further evinces the bad faith registration and use of Respondent, as listing a domain name for sale is evidence of bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(i). See Airbnb, Inc. v. Super Privacy Service LTD c/o Dynadot, FA 1821386 (Forum Jan. 10, 2019) (“Complainant argues that Respondent registered and uses the <airbnbb.com> domain name in bad faith by offering it for sale. The Panel agrees and finds that Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(i).”). Here, Complainant provides a screenshot of the domain name being offered for sale for $4,990.00 as evidence of Respondent’s attempt to sell the disputed domain. The Panel therefore clearly finds that Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(i).

Complainant also argues that Respondent registered and uses the <reions.com> domain name in bad faith as Respondent uses the disputed domain name to divert Internet users to Complainant’s competitors. Using a disputed domain name to host a parked website which displays advertisements for Complainant’s competitors displays bad faith under Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) and (iv). See block.one v. Negalize Interactive Things, FA 1798280 (Forum Aug. 21, 2018) (“Offering links to competing products or services can demonstrate bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iii) where a respondent registers a domain name that is confusingly similar to the mark of another.”). As previously noted, Complainant provides screenshots of the landing page for the disputed domain name as evidence of Respondent’s use. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent registered and uses <reions.com> in bad faith under Policy ¶¶ 4(b)(iii) and (iv).

Complainant further maintains that Respondent uses the subdomain <onepass.reions.com> as an attempt to steal its customer’s login information in furtherance of a phishing scheme. Using a disputed domain name to operate a phishing scheme is evidence of bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Klabzuba Oil & Gas, Inc. v. LAKHPAT SINGH BHANDARI, FA1506001625750 (Forum July 17, 2015) (“Respondent uses the <klabzuba-oilgas.com> domain to engage in phishing, which means Respondent registered and uses the domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).”). As previously noted, the Complainant provides screenshots of this subdomain, but it has been blocked from use. As also previously noted, the subdomain as such is not part of this dispute, however the use of the same clearly supports the Complainant’s conclusion that Respondent uses the disputed domain name – in combination with the subdomain – as an attempt to steal its customers login information in furtherance of a phishing scheme. Thus, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and uses the disputed domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).

Additionally, Complainant argues that Respondent registered the <reions.com> domain name with actual knowledge of Complainant’s rights in the REGIONS trademark. Per Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii), actual knowledge of a Complainant’s trademark rights is sufficient to establish bad faith and may be demonstrated by the fame of a mark and the use Respondent makes of a disputed domain. See iFinex Inc. v. xu shuaiwei, FA 1760249 (Forum Jan. 1, 2018) (“Respondent’s prior knowledge is evident from the notoriety of Complainant’s BITFINEX trademark as well as from Respondent’s use of its trademark laden domain name to direct internet traffic to a website which is a direct competitor of Complainant”). Here, Complainant provides evidence of its notoriety within the financial world, while Respondent uses the disputed domain to link to services which compete with Complainant. The Panel agrees that actual knowledge was present, and finds bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii).

DECISION

Having established all three elements required under the ICANN Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED.

Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <reions.com> domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.

Petter Rindforth, Panelist

Dated: May 4, 2021

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