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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
PEOPLEPC, INC v. EUROSTAR
Case No. D 2000-1129
1. The Parties
The Complainant is PeoplePC, Inc, 100 Pine Street, Suite 1100,San Francisco, CA 94111, USA.
The Respondent is Eurostar, Alex Vorot, Mira Prospect 120-14, Moscow, RU 180012, Russia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The Domain Name is <wwwpeoplepc.com>.
The Registrar is BulkRegister.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The original Complaint was received by WIPO by email on August 26, 2000 and in hardcopy form on August 28, 2000. On October 12, 2000, WIPO notified the Complainant of deficiencies in the Complaint and, on November 13, 2000, the amended Complaint was received by WIPO. WIPO has verified that the Complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and that payment was properly made. The Administrative Panel ("the Panel") is satisfied that this is the case.
The Complaint was properly notified in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a). The Registrar has confirmed that <wwwpeoplepc.com> ("the Domain Name") was registered through BulkRegister.com, Inc. and that Eurostar ("the Respondent") is the current registrant. The Registrar has further confirmed that the Policy is applicable to the Domain Name.
On November 28, 2000, WIPO notified the Respondent of the Complaint by courier and by e-mail and informed the Respondent inter alia that the last day for sending its Response to the Complainant and to WIPO was December 17, 2000. No Response was filed. On December 22, 2000, WIPO issued to the Respondent a Notification of Respondent Default informing the Respondent of the consequences of his default.
The Panel was properly constituted. The undersigned Panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
No further submissions were received by WIPO or the Panel, as a consequence of which the date scheduled for the issuance of the Panel’s Decision is January 22, 2001.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant has been trading under and by reference to the name PEOPLEPC and through the <peoplepc.com> domain name since at least as early as August 1999. The Complainant is in the business of leasing and distributing computer hardware, computer software and computer services.
The Complainant is the owner of several US trade mark applications for the mark PEOPLEPC.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name in January 2000.
The Respondent’s website connected to the Domain Name appears to connect to a computer related website, but the Panel has had difficulty opening the site and pages from the site are not exhibited to the Complaint.
On July 27, 2000, the Complainant wrote to the Respondent drawing the Respondent’s attention to the existence of the Complainant’s rights to the name PEOPLEPC and requesting that the Respondent transfer the Domain Name to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not respond.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The grounds on which the Complaint is made are:
- Complainant has been using its PEOPLEPC mark and the corresponding <peoplepc.com> domain name to promote the Complainant’s leasing and distributing of its computer hardware, computer software and computer services since at least as early as August 1999;
- Complainant is the owner of US trade mark application ser. Nos. 75/728,761, 75/727,730, 75/728,699 and 75/728,762 for the mark PEOPLEPC.
- Since August 1999, Complainant has developed substantial fame in its PEOPLEPC mark. PEOPLEPC is the subject of over forty trade mark applications by Complainant around the world.
- Complainant is the founder of <peoplepc.com>, one of the most popular websites for leasing and promotion of personal computers and computer services, including internet services.
- Complainant’s business derives significant revenues and inquiries based on the amount of internet traffic directed at its websites.
- Respondent registered the Domain Name in January 2000.
- Respondent’s domain name promotes and advertises several consumer products, including one prominent section devoted solely to computers, with topic hardware, software and equipment, all focus areas of Complainant. Additionally, after choosing any topic on Respondent’s website or attempting to leave the site, several windows appear which promote internet gambling.
- Upon information and belief, Respondent registered the Domain Name in order to misdirect internet traffic to its site (and thus increase Respondent’s advertising revenues) and/or to hold the Domain Name for ransom by the trade mark owner.
- The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trade mark PEOPLEPC and is identical to Complainant’s domain name except for the absence of a period after www.
- By letter dated July 27, 2000, Complainant cited its trade mark rights to PEOPLEPC and requested that Respondent transfer the Domain Name to Complainant.
- The Respondent should be considered as having no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name because: (i) the Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name; and, (ii) Respondent has not been commonly known by the Domain Name.
- The Domain Name should be considered as having been registered in bad faith because: (i) by registering the Domain Name, Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to his website or other on-line location; and/or (ii) Respondent registered or acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to the Complainant or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; and/or (iii) by registering the Domain Name, Respondent has created a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of its website.
The Respondent has not responded.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that
(i) The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Identical or confusing similarity
The Domain Name comprises three elements, namely ‘www’ which is generic, ‘peoplepc’ which is the Complainant’s name and unregistered trade mark, and ‘.com’, which is generic. Clearly, the Domain Name, which appears to be in use in relation to computer related goods and services is intended to indicate the Complainant’s website.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights.
Rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent
Proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name requires the Complainant to prove a negative. For the purpose of this sub paragraph, however, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case and the burden of proof is then shifted onto the shoulders of the Respondent.
The Complainant’s name and principal trade mark, PEOPLEPC, is well known in the computer industry. The Domain Name is essentially the Complainant’s name and principal trade mark. There is no obvious reason why the Respondent might have a legitimate interest in the Domain Name. The Respondent has not sought to claim that it has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and the Panel has no evidence before it to suggest any reason why the Respondent might have any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out four non-exclusive criteria which shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b)(i) concerns acquisition of the Domain Name in order to sell it to the Complainant at a profit. Paragraph 4(b)(ii) concerns acquisition for the purpose of blocking the Complainant, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct. Paragraph 4(b)(iii) concerns registration of the Domain Name particularly for the purpose of disruption of the business of a competitor. Paragraph 4(b)(iv) involves use of the Domain Name for the purpose of attracting visitors to the Respondent’s online location in the mistaken belief that they are visiting a location of or associated with the Complainant.
The only evidence beyond the Domain Name itself is the connection of it to a computer related website. The Panel takes the view that the Domain Name in the hands of an entity engaged in the computer business is clearly intended as a reference to the Complainant’s website at <www.peoplepc.com>.
The Panel concludes that the purpose behind registration of the Domain Name must have been with a view to disrupting the Complainant’s business and/or to attract visitors to the Respondent’s site for commercial gain and by deceiving those visitors into thinking that they are visitors to a website of or associated with the Complainant.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
In the result, the Panel having found that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trade 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 Domain Name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith, the Complaint succeeds.
The Panel directs that the Domain Name, <wwwpeoplepc.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: January 22, 2001