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January 11, 2021

Refusal to Participate in INDRP Proceedings may be inferred as Lack of legitimate Interest

Author: Aditi Roy Chowdhury

In the matter of Ziprecruiter Inc. v. Manish Rawat [INDRP/1261], the Sole Arbitrator,  Harshvardhan Sancheti, vide Order dated October 5, 2020, transferred the domain name <ziprecruiters.in> to the Complainant, under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP)

The Complainant claimed to be using the mark ZIPRECRUITER for providing recruitment services internationally. Although the mark was not registered in India, the Complainant claimed to be the owner of the domain names <ziprecruiter.in> and <ziprecruiter.co.in>. The Complainant filed a complaint against the domain registration of <ziprecruiters.in> by the Respondent.  The Complainant contended that mere addition of the letter “s” to  the disputed domain name was sufficient to make a finding of confusing similarity with the Complainant’s mark. The Complainant also stated that the Respondent was unable to meet the criteria set for establishing legitimate interest and lack of bad faith. The Respondent declined to participate in the instant INDRP proceeding.

In the absence of evidence to show that the Respondent intended to sell the disputed domain name or prior pattern of such conduct, the Arbitrator was not entirely convinced that the registration of the disputed domain name was in bad faith. The Arbitrator expressed that if a mark is not registered in India, it does not necessarily foreclose an Indian business from using a similar mark. Further, commenting upon the Complainant’s mark, the Arbitrator noted that the mark comprised of common English words “ZIP” and “RECRUITER” and therefore stated, “Companies that choose to incorporate as common English words should be aware that such a choice does not license them to colonize the English language.” 

Notwithstanding above, the Arbitrator took a note of the fact that the Respondent had failed to participate in the instant INDRP proceeding. The Arbitrator stated “The Respondent has not participated in these proceedings, and produced no evidence that it has any legitimate interest with the domain name ZIPRECRUITERS whatsoever. As such, the inference is overwhelming that it was simply engaged in cyber-squatting and has decided to abandon the domain name in the face of this action.”

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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