Facts

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an intergovernmental multilateral financial institution proposed by the Chinese government for the purpose of financing infrastructure projects throughout Asia.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang announced the AIIB initiative during their respective visits to Southeast Asian countries in October 2013. It was agreed that the Chinese government would take the lead by setting up the AIIB Multilateral Interim Secretariat in order to undertake the necessary technical preparations and provide support and services to members.

Since the secretariat is not an independent legal person, a 'preparation and management' company was set up for the AIIB to maintain and protect any relevant IP rights on its behalf.

In early 2015 the secretariat found that the 'AIIB.org' domain name was already registered by a squatter, a Chinese natural person (the respondent).

On May 5 2015, the AIIB company filed a complaint with the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC), making the following claims:

  • AIIB enjoyed a prior legal interest on the term 'AIIB' and using the identical domain name 'AIIB.org' would cause worldwide confusion among the public.
  • The respondent had no right to the disputed domain name.
  • The disputed domain name was registered for sale, which demonstrated the respondent's bad faith.

Article 4 of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, as approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on October 24 1999, provides that a domain name registrant must submit to an administrative dispute resolution procedure when the relevant domain name registration is challenged by a third party on the following grounds:

  • The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark over which the complainant has rights.
  • The domain name registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
  • The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The plaintiff bears the burden of proof for these three points.

Both parties chose a member panellist and the ADNDRC notified the parties that the panel would render a decision on or before June 29 2015. On that day the panel ruled in favour of the AIIB, finding that the disputed domain name should be transferred to the complainant and confirming all of the AIIB's allegations.

Comment

Since the Chinese president's announcement of the AIIB initiative in October 2013, mainstream media coverage of the AIIB has been widespread. Through large-scale, extensive promotion and reports, the AIIB has become widely known by the general public around the world. As the English acronym of 'Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank', the term 'AIIB' enjoys a high reputation.

In this case, the complainant proved the high reputation of the term 'AIIB' and that it constituted the trade or service mark that it used in its business activities. The complainant also highlighted the respondent's bad faith in registering the domain name with various details, showing that the respondent had no intention to actually use the domain name and intended only to sell it for a profit.

For further information on this topic please contact Yunquan Li at Wan Hui Da Intellectual Property Agency by telephone (+86 10 6892 1000) or email (liyunquan@wanhuida.com). The Wan Hui Da Intellectual Property Agency website can be accessed at www.wanhuida.com.

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