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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Union des associations europйennes de football v. Alliance International Media
Case No. D2000-0153
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Union des associations europйennes de football, ("UEFA"), a society organized under the laws of Switzerland, having its principal place of business at Route de Genиve 46, CH-1260 Nyon, Switzerland. The Respondent is Alliance International Media, ("AIM"), a corporation organized under the laws of United Kingdom, having its principal place of business at Unicorn House, 3 Plough Yard, GB-London, EC2A 3LP, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s)
The domain name at issue is <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM>, which domain name is registered with Network Solutions, Inc. ("NSI"), Herndon, Virginia, United States of America.
3. Procedural History
A Complaint was submitted electronically to the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "WIPO Center") on March 13, 2000, and the signed original together with four copies was received by WIPO Center on March 14, 2000. An Acknowledgement of Receipt was sent by the WIPO Center to the Complainant, dated March 15, 2000.
On March 15, 2000, a Request for Registrar Verification was transmitted to the Registrar, NSI requesting it to:
(1) confirm that a copy of the Complaint was sent to the Registrar by the Complainant, as required by WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, Paragraph 4(b);
(2) confirm that the domain name at issue is registered with NSI;
(3) confirm that the Respondent is the current registrant of the domain name(s);
(4) provide the full contact details (i.e., postal address(es), telephone number(s), facsimile number(s), e-mail address(es)) available in the Registrar’s WHOIS database for the registrant of the disputed domain name, the technical contact, the administrative contact and the billing contact;
(5) confirm that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy applies to the domain name(s);
(6) indicate the current status of the domain name(s).
On March 16, 2000, NSI confirmed by e-mail that NSI was in receipt of the Complaint sent to NSI by the Complainant, the domain name <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM> was registered with NSI and that the Respondent was the current registrant of the name. The Registrar also forwarded the requested WHOIS details, confirmed that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy was in effect and stated that the domain name was on "Hold" status.
The policy in effect at the time of the original registration of the domain name at issue was Network Solutions 4.0 Service Agreement.
Network Solutions Domain Name Registration Agreement in effect provides in pertinent part:
"NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION AGREEMENT
A. Introduction. This domain name registration agreement ("Registration Agreement") is submitted to NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC. ("NSI") for the purpose of applying for and registering a domain name on the Internet. If this Registration Agreement is accepted by NSI, and a domain name is registered in NSI’s domain name database and assigned to the Registrant, Registrant ("Registration") agrees to be bound by the terms of this Registration Agreement and the terms of NSI’s Domain Name Dispute Policy ("Dispute Policy") which is incorporated herein by reference and made a part of this Registration Agreement. This Registration Agreement shall be accepted at the offices of NSI.
* * * * *
C. Dispute Policy. Registrant agrees, as a condition to submitting this Registration Agreement, and if the Registration Agreement is accepted by NSI, that the Registrant shall be bound by NSI’s current Dispute Policy. The current version of the Dispute Policy may be found at the InterNIC Registration Services web site: "http://www.netsol.com/rs/dispute-policy.html."
D. Dispute Policy Changes or Modifications. Registrant agrees that NSI, in its sole discretion, may change or modify the Dispute Policy, incorporated by reference herein, at any time. Registrant agrees that Registrant’s maintaining the registration of a domain name after changes or modifications to the Dispute Policy become effective constitutes Registrant’s continued acceptance of these changes or modifications. Registrant agrees that if Registrant considers any such changes or modifications to be unacceptable, Registrant may request that the domain name be deleted from the domain name database.
E. Disputes. Registrant agrees that, if the registration of its domain name is challenged by any third party, the Registrant will be subject to the provisions specified in the Dispute Policy.
* * * * *
Q. This is Domain Name Registration Agreement Version Number 4.0. This Registration Agreement is only for registrations under top-level domains: COM, ORG, NET, and EDU. By completing and submitting this Registration Agreement for consideration and acceptance by NSI, the Registrant agrees that he/she has read and agrees to be bound by A through D above.
Domain Version Number: 4.0 [URL ftp://rs.internic.net/templates/ domain-template.txt] [01/98]"
Effective January 1, 2000, NSI adopted the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") on August 26, 1999 (the "Policy"). There is no evidence that the Respondent ever requested that the domain name at issue be deleted from the domain name database. Accordingly, the Respondent is bound by the provisions of Policy.
A Formal Requirements Compliance Checklist was completed by the assigned WIPO Center Case Administrator on March 15, 2000. The Panel has independently determined and agrees with the assessment of the WIPO Center that the Complaint is in formal compliance with the requirements of the Policy, the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, as approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 (the "Uniform Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy, in effect as of December 1, 1999 (the "WIPO Supplemental Rules"). The required fees for a single-member Panel were paid on time and in the required amount by the Complainant.
No formal deficiencies having been recorded, on March 16, 2000, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the "Commencement Notification") was transmitted to the Respondent (with copies to the Complainant, NSI and ICANN), setting a deadline of April 4, 2000, by which the Respondent could file a Response to the Complaint. The Commencement Notification was transmitted to the Respondent by e-mail to the e-mail addresses indicated in the Complaint and specified in NSI’s WHOISґs confirmation, as well as to <firstname.lastname@example.org>; no e-mail addresses were found at any web page relating to the disputed domain name. In addition, the Complaint was sent by express courier to all available postal addresses.
Having reviewed the communications records in the case file, the Administrative Panel finds that the WIPO Center has discharged its responsibility under Paragraph 2(a) of the Uniform Rules "to employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice to Respondent."
On April 5, 2000, having received no Response from the designated Respondent, the WIPO Center transmitted to the parties a Notification of Respondent Default. On April 12, 2000, the WIPO Center issued to both parties a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel and Projected Decision Date. This Notification informed the parties that the Administrative Panel would be comprised of a single Panelist, Mr Jonas Gulliksson.
The Sole Panelist finds that the Administrative Panel was properly constituted and appointed in accordance with the Uniform Rules and WIPO Supplemental Rules.
Following these transmittals, the WIPO Center received a series of fax messages from the Respondent’s representative and the Complainant, indicating that the parties intended to settle. While the Panel is aware that the parties are close to a settlement, the Panel is also mindful of its responsibility to issue a timely decision. Accordingly, this decision is issued prior to having received any settlement documents. In a fax message dated April 19, 2000, from Complainant to the attorney of Respondent with copies to the Panelist, Complainant has requested a final decision from the Panelist.
The Administrative Panel shall issue its Decision based on the Complaint, the e-mails exchanged, the Policy, the Uniform Rules, the WIPO Supplemental Rules, and without the benefit of any Response from the Respondent.
4. Factual Background
4.1 The Complainant and its Registered Trademarks
In accordance with Rules, para. 3(b)(viii), UEFA owns the trademark ‘UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE’ (word), registered on a world-wide basis, including in the United Kingdom, for the following classes: 6, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 41 and 42. The Complainant is authorized to use and has used its servicemark in connection with entertainment services, namely the organization of sporting events, such as football competitions. Furthermore, the use of the mark is licensed to the official partners and suppliers of the UEFA Champions League. (Current partners are Amstel, Continental, Playstation, Canon, EUROCARD/MasterCard, Nutella, Ford and McDonalds). Authorized use of the trademark is made in connection with metal key chains, video cassettes, computer games, cars, competition trophies replica’s, posters, umbrellas, souvenir statuettes, badges, pins, bottle-openers, sportswear, crisps, snacks, chocolate products and beer. In addition, use is made on the Complainant’s Internet website in connection with information on and promotion of the competition (ref. To www.uefa.com). Copies of the registration certificates for the relevant marks are attached as Annexes C and D to the Complaint (WIPO No. 639 783 and 715 265).
Further, the four letters (UEFA) constitute the official abbreviated form of the Complainant and are also registered as a trademark (Registration certificate of WIPO No. 718 096 is attached as Annexe E to the Complaint).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM> domain name is identical (or confusingly similar) to the above-referenced trademarks.
The Respondent has not developed a web site using the domain name at issue or made any other good-faith use of the domain name. Furthermore, the domain name at issue is not, nor could it be contended to be, a nickname of the Respondent or any other member of his family, or in any other way identified with or related to a legitimate interest of the Respondent. Consequently, the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, which is firstly, the official designation of the UEFA competition and which secondly, contains the word UEFA. These four letters (UEFA) constitute the official abbreviated form of the Complainant and are also registered as a trademark. Consequently the registration by the Respondent of the disputed domain name was done in bad faith.
Former correspondence with the Respondent showing the will of the Respondent not to make use of the disputed domain name is also attached to this complaint. (Annex F, G and H to the Complaint). However, the Respondent has not followed up on this promise and the domain name has been on hold since 22 August, 1998 due to Complainant’s request to Network Solutions to invoke their Section 9 of the then applicable Dispute Policy (Annexe I to the Complaint). No contact has been made by the Respondent to the Complainant to resolve the matter on an amicable basis, even if the Respondent was encouraged to do so by Internic by letter of 21 August 1998. (Attached as Annexe J to the Complaint)
The registration by the Respondent is preventing the Complainant from making use of the domain name in connection with information on and the promotion of the UEFA Champions League competition. In addition the Respondent, who is publishing an un-official guide to the UEFA Champions League, could use also the domain name for providing information on our competition. Together with the trademark-protected official name of the competition as the domain name, such information would of course create a likelihood of confusion, by the public assuming that the Respondent’s website would be associated with or even endorsed by the Complainant.
In conclusion Complainant contends that Respondent has registered as a domain name a mark which is identical to the trademark registered and used by Complainant, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect to the domain name at issue, and that Respondent has registered and is using the domain name at issue in bad faith.
Furthermore, Complainant has requested the Administrative Panel to issue that the contested domain name <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM> shall be transferred to Complainant.
Respondent has not contested the allegations of the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to Paragraph 15 (a) of the Rules the Panel shall decide a complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4 (a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
1) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and,
2) that the Respondent has no legitimate interests in respects of the domain name; and
3) the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
The domain name <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM> is identical with the trademark UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and the company name UEFA except for the addition .com.
The Respondent has not proven that he has any prior rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
The words "UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE" is considered distinctive and registrable as a trademark and the word is not a generic or descriptive word which can be used by anyone.
The prerequisites in the Policy, Paragraph 4 (a) (i) and (ii) are therefore fulfilled.
Paragraph 4 (a) (iii) of the Policy further provides registration and use in bad faith.
Paragraph 4 (b) regulates which kind of evidence that is required.
It is obvious from the facts in the case, i.e. the prior ownership by Complainant of identical trademark registration, the identity between the dominating element UEFA in the corporate name and the domain name at issue, the fact that Respondent in a letter dated on May 21, 1998, (Annex G to the Complaint) stated that the registration of the domain name was a mistake, the fact that the words UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE has a high degree of individuality and distinctiveness and the fact that it is highly improbable that the Respondent has selected the name without first having noticed the Complainantґs trademark registration and its wide reputation in the word UEFA, the non-contested statement in the Complaint and the contents of the Policy Paragraphs 4 (a) (i-iii) and 4 (b) (i) that the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.Cf. Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, Case No.D2000-0003.
Consequently, all the prerequisites for cancellation or transfer of the domain name according to Paragraph 4 (i) of the Rules are fulfilled.
The Complainant has requested transfer of the domain name.
In view of the above circumstances and facts the Panel decides, that the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark and service mark in which the Complainant has rights, and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, and that the Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly, pursuant to Paragraph 4 (i) of the Policy, the Panel requires that the registration of the domain name <UEFACHAMPIONSLEAGUE.COM> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: April 25, 2000