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Citibank Wins Rights to Overseas Web Domains

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A federal judge has ordered the transfer of four domains from their anonymous registrants in China and Panama to Citigroup.

The financial institution alleges the websites bear semblance to Citibank registered marks and violate intellectual property laws.

The domain names, which are registered with Virginia-based VeriSign Inc., all use a form of the phrase "Citi thank you," which has been a registered mark of the financial institution since 2011, Citigroup says.

The mark was conceived as a consumer rewards program, operating under the domain Citigroup says, these websites swindled consumers by reproducing Citibank intellectual property, including "Citi Thankyou Rewards" and "Reward Points." Citi says that with such similar likeness, these unauthorized sites could damage the reputation of their company.

"The registrant(s) of the Domain Names have a bad faith intent to profit from their unauthorized use of the Citi Marks by diverting customers from Plaintiff's authorized websites to sites accessible under the Domain Names," said Citigroup in their complaint. "Each of the websites also mimics Plaintiff's reward program website in a manner that is likely to deceive consumers."

Citigroup also alleges the registrants of the four used fake names associated with their accounts. The registrants, who reside in China and Panama, have never had any other accounts associated with their names, Citigroup said.

None of the registrants appeared in court or filed a motion objecting to CitiGroup's petition, leading U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenda to enter a default judgment on the bank's behalf.

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