Complainant – Microsoft Corporation
Respondent – Zoai Founder
Disputed Domain – Zoai.in
Decision – Complaint has denied, Zoai.IN to remain with the respondent.
This decision is based upon a simple principle – the weaker the mark, stronger should be the evidence.
The Complaint in the matter is a software company, Microsoft Corporation claiming rights over short Trademark ‘ZO’ which was recently registered in India in September 2018.
The complainant filed a petition that the disputed domain name WWW.ZOAI.IN is identical/ confusingly similar to the complainant’s trademark.
The Respondent in the matter is from New Delhi India – ZOAI Founder, who did not respond to the Complaint but had a legitimate website upon the domain name, referring themselves as ZO.AI or ZOAI.
The Complainant has a website over the Domain Name ZO.AI representing its chatbot ZO, which used Artificial Intelligence. But the said domain ZO.AI was registered in December 2017, while the disputed domain name had earlier registration date as 19 June 2017.
Though, Complainant claimed that the Disputed Domain Name consists entirely of Microsoft’s trademark ZO and the technology associated with the trademark i.e. AI it is evident that the Respondent has no legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name but has adopted it to gain undue advantage from the goodwill associated with the Complainant’s ZO trademark.
But, given the active website on the Disputed Domain Name with no reference to Complainant Company or its Chatbot and earlier registration date, legitimate interest was upheld and it was analyzed by the Arbitrator that the following factors support the case of Respondent:
Key Points in the Case
- The registration date of the disputed domain name pre-dates the Complainant’s domain name www.ZO.ai.
- Indian Trademark Registry does not allow search for a two-letter wordmark normally.
- Trademark registration date in India, as International Registration, is 28 September 2018, i.e. 15 months after the registration of the disputed domain name.
- ZO and ZOAI are combinations of random letters/dictionary/ generic terms and also ZOAI is a first name of many individuals around the world.
- The website content and the WHOIS name indicates that the Respondent is known by the domain name. ‘ZOAI’.
- Respondent is officially using email ID as …@zoai.in.
- Complainant doesn’t seem to be owning any other domain name with the keyword ZOAI, but only www.ZO.ai. Rather, the domains like zoai.com and zoai.net are put on sale by third parties.
- Complainant hasn’t provided any evidence of popularity of it’s Trademark in India, where Respondent has the presence as per WHOIS info.
In order to win the domain from the respondent in an INDRP dispute, The complainant must prove all three following grounds :
1)Registrant’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name, trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights.
While further under ‘Bad Faith’ Complainant claimed that “by using the domain name, the Registrant has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to the Registrant’s website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s name or mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Registrant’s website or location or of a product or service on the Registrant’s website or location”, such use and registration constitutes bad faith.
The Disputed Domain Name functions as an advertising and marketing arm of the Respondent. By intentionally adopting a domain name that consists of Microsoft’s trademark ZO, followed by the technology associated with said trademark i.e. “AI” and a top-level domain i.e..” in”, there is no doubt that the Respondent willfully adopted a deceptively similar domain name to increase web traffic and attract internet users.
2)The registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of domain name.
ZO’ and ‘ZOAI’ as generic terms and not inventive. There are limitless potential uses of the Complainant’s mark “ZO”, which is a common acronym. A Trademark that equally describes businesses conducted by many other people is not a protect-able term. The same proves that even as on date Complainant mark hasn’t gained that much popularity/reputation.
Trade Mark registry does not allow search for a two-letter wordmark and in any TradeMark registry does not allow search for a two letter wordmark and in any case, a Domain Registrant is not expected to search for words other than ZOAI, when registering a Domain Name. Thus the respondent has rights and legitimate interests on the disputed domain name.
3)Registrant’s domain has been registered or being used in bad faith.
The complainant has failed to prove bad faith part of the respondent.
An Excellent decision has been taken by the honorable arbitrator Ankur Raheja. Even though Microsoft Corporation is one of the worlds largest company, his commitment and dedication towards judgement is outstanding. These kind of judgements can build confidence among small scale companies.
Please read the further details about the dispute” @zoai.in
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