JBSfoods.com saved in UDRP on religious details in response

In the matter of JBS S.A. and Swift Brands Company v Harshad Panchal [WIPO Case No. D2017-0464], the domain dispute matter brought up by JBS S.A. over the Domain JBSFOODS.com, who operates many agricultural and food-related businesses, including a business providing processed food products under the trade name and trademark JBS and employs over 200,000 employees worldwide, and has 340 production units.

They had simultaneously filed for another UDRP/Domain Dispute over JBSFOODSINTERNATIONAL.com (D2017-0415) against a Brazilian Resident, which they won. But the kind of response presented by the Indian Respondent in the matter of JBSFOODS.com, didn’t help the Complainants. Though the Complainant owns many trademark registrations for the trademark JBS in the United States and Brazil covering different products, including meat and process meat products.

The Complainant contended that the disputed domain name is virtually identical to the Complainant’s registered JBS trademark, as it consists entirely of the distinctive term “jbs” as a main element, together with the descriptive word “foods”. The Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not commonly known by the name “jbs”, and has never been authorized or licensed by the Complainant.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith because (i) the Respondent could not have been unaware of the Complainant’s registered trademark rights in JBS, when the Respondent registered the confusingly similar disputed domain name; (ii) the Respondent was contacted by the Complainant and put on notice of its registered trademark rights in the JBS mark, but Respondent replied with a vague and evasive response; (iii) the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to revert to a website which features content which denigrates the image and reputation of the Complainant’s registered trademark and trade name; and (iv) the Respondent is attempting to target the Complainant to interfere with the Complainant’s business and/or sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant for an amount greater than the Respondent’s out-of-pocket expenses.

The Respondent submits that he operates a website at the disputed domain name which is a noncommercial and not-for-profit website that provides free information related to vegetarianism and healthy living, specifically focused on the teachings of the Hindu deity Lord Jagannath. The Respondent states that Lord Jagannath’s teachings focus on eating habits and encourage a pure vegetarian lifestyle, and that Lord Jagannath’s worshippers pray to Balarama (Lord Jagannath’s brother) and Subhadra (Lord Jagannath’s sister). The Respondent states that he is a devotee of all three deities, and has created the name “jbsfoods” as an acronym from the first letters of each of the deities’ names. Internet users when visiting the website at the disputed domain name are directed to a graphic image of the three deities on the home page.

The Respondent states that the website caters to followers of Hinduism, for whom “jbs” is familiar as a commonly used acronym. The disputed domain name reverts to a website that does not contain any commercial links or content. The Respondent claims that he does not make any revenue or profits from the website and the information it provides. The Respondent also claims that the principal purpose of the disputed domain name and website is to publish opinions, testimonies and teachings of Lord Jagannath that visitors can incorporate into their daily life.

The Respondent states that he resides in Mumbai, India and had no knowledge of the Complainant or the Complainant’s registered trademark. Further, the Respondent states that he did not register the disputed domain name to interfere with the Complainant’s business, and that the Complainant actually owns several domain names which it uses to promote and advertise its products and services. The Respondent states that there is no evidence on the website at the disputed domain name that denigrates or makes reference to the Complainant or the Complainant’s registered trademark. The Respondent also states that he never offered the disputed domain name to the Complainant. The Respondent denies that he registered the disputed domain name in bad faith or used the disputed domain name in bad faith under the terms of the Policy.

The UDRP Panelist upheld the response put up by the Mumbai Respondent and as a result, the Complaint was dismissed.

Complete UDRP Decision : http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/text.jsp?case=D2017-0464

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