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WIPO Domain Name Decision: D2000-1727
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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
General Electric Company v. Momm Amed Ia
Case No. D2000-1727
1. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is General Electric Company,
a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, with a principal place of business in Fairfield, Connecticut, USA.
According to the registrant database of BulkRegister.com, the Respondent is Momm Amed Ia, of Kwangsan-Kwangju, Republic of Korea. Both the administrative and technical contacts are located in Moscow, Russia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
This dispute concerns the domain name identified below:
The Respondent registered the domain name on June 23, 2000.
The registrar with whom the domain name is registered is BulkRegister.com
3. Procedural History
A complaint pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("Policy") and the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Rules’) both of which were implemented by ICANN on October 24, 1999, was received by WIPO in electronic format on December 12, 2000, and hardcopy on December 13, 2000. Payment in the required amount to the Center has been made by the Complainant.
On December 26, 2000, a request for registrar verification was sent to the Registrar requesting confirmation that it had received a copy of the complaint from the Complainant, that the domain name was currently registered with it and that the Policy was in effect, and requesting full details of the holder of the domain name and advice as to the current status of the domain name.
On January 22, 2001, there was notification of the complaint and commencement of the administrative proceeding.
On February 15, 2001, WIPO notified the Respondent that he had failed to comply with the deadline indicated in the notification of complaint by not filing a submission in response.
On March 7, 2001, a notification of appointment of administrative panel and projected decision date ("the appointment notification") was sent to the Complainant and the respondent. In accordance with the Complainant’s request, the appointment notification informed the parties that the administrative panel would be comprised of a single panelist, Clive Elliott, and advised that the decision should be forwarded to WIPO by March 21, 2001.
On March 21, 2001, there was still no response from the Respondent and the decision was made.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant owns and has registered the domain name "GE.com" and it maintains an active website at "www.GE.com". The NSI’s WHOIS database information page shows the Complainant’s registration of this domain name.
The domain name at issue, "GEBenefits.com", consists of the "GE" trademark and trade name of the Complainant with the addition of the generic word "benefits" thereafter.
The Complainant states that the Respondent is using the domain name without the consent or approval of GE.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The complainant alleges the following:
The Complainant says that prior to the Respondent’s registration of the domain name, it has continuously owned and used the name and mark "GE" and a stylized GE monogram logo (collectively, the "GE Marks") in connection with GE’s products and services. Large numbers of the Complainant’s GE Marks are registered with government authorities in the United States, the Republic of Korea and other countries.
The Complainant asserts that GE has spent billions of dollars in advertising and promoting the GE Marks in connection with its products and services throughout the United States and the Far East, including the Republic of Korea, and GE has sold hundreds of billions of dollars worth of these products and services under and in connection with the GE Marks throughout the United States and the Far East, including the Republic of Korea.
The Complainant alleges that by virtue of GE’s long use, widespread advertising and enormous sales, the GE Marks have become well-recognized and famous both in the United States and overseas, including in the Republic of Korea, and represent goodwill of extraordinary value.
The Complainant says that it owns and operates numerous divisions and subsidiaries using a "GE" prefix as part of their name, such as GE Corporate Benefits Delivery, GE Medical Systems, GE Capital Services, etc. GE Corporate Benefits Delivery is responsible for administering the GE company's core employee benefit plans. As part of its strategy to deliver legally required information and serve plan participants, GE Corporate Benefits Delivery has created the website "Benefits.ge.com". It is stated that this website receives over 2.5 million visits a year. GE also registered and owns numerous additional domain names incorporating the GE mark, including "GELighting.com", "GEWashers.com", "GEHealthProducts.com", and "GEBlenders.com", some of which are maintained as active websites, such as "www.GEAppliances.com".
It is submitted that as a result of this long and varied use of the GE Marks in combination with other terms to symbolize the products, services and goodwill associated with various lines of business conducted by GE, the public worldwide has come to associate such combinations with the Complainant.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent uses the domain name as a way to redirect traffic to two other commercial websites. Once the domain name "www.GEBenefits.com" is typed into an Internet browser, the user is automatically redirected to a website under the domain name "www.Centerfind.com", with a pop-up box stating: "10% FREE Signup Bonus! Win FREE BMW M Coupe! HTML/Java NO Downloads! 26 Games To Play & Win!"
If the user clicks on "OK" they are randomly redirected to one of a series of gambling related websites, including, inter alia, "http://www.galacticacasino.com/?eu2000", "http://www.olympiccasino.com/?eu2000", "http://www.orientalgamble.com/?eu2000" and "http://www.tiffanyscasino.com/?eu2000".
If the user clicks on "Cancel," they are kept at the "www.Centerfind.com" website. This site is also a commercial website and offers a variety of services including domain registration, online games and sports betting. Until recently a different pop-up box appeared, with the message: "CONGRATS!!! YOUV’E WON = FREE CASINO GAMES = VIRTUAL REALITY CASINO! CLICK on OK Will Make You Reach[sic]!!," and the user was redirected to a different website at http://188.8.131.52/main.cgi?refererID=300119, which was titled "Casino on Net" and was also devoted to online gambling.
No response was received from the Respondent.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the complainant must prove each of the following:
i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark; and
ii) The Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name; and
iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out four illustrative circumstances that, if proved, constitute evidence of bad faith as required by paragraph 4(a)(iii) referred to above.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy sets out three illustrative circumstances that, if proved, constitute evidence of a right or legitimate interest as described in paragraph. 4(a)(ii) referred to above.
Domain Name Identical or Confusingly Similar
It is clear from the evidence, and not disputed by the Respondent that, in its various manifestations, GE is well recognized and famous both in the United States and internationally. It is also asserted and not disputed that it represents goodwill of extraordinary value.
The Complainant uses GE with a range of other descriptive in generic terms to identify various aspects of its business. Likewise, it has registered and used a number of domain names in the same fashion.
The domain in dispute is clearly a combination of a generic word 'benefits' (identifying a range of possible benefits) and the trademark GE. It is confusingly similar to various names used by the Complainant in the course of its business, for example, GE Corporate Benefits Delivery and the Complainant's website "Benefits.ge.com".
No Right or Legitimate Interest
Given the substantial exposure, registration and use of the GE Marks and in the absence of any explanation from the Respondent as to why it might have a right or legitimate interest in using the letters "GE", it is difficult to imagine how a Respondent might have a right or legitimate interest to use GE as part of its domain name.
Prima facie, the Complainant makes out its case on this ground.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
It is clear from the evidence that the Respondent, or its agents or associates are using the domain name to redirect Internet traffic to a range of commercial sites. These include gambling, domain registration, online games and sports betting sites. Given the massive reputation in GE, the redirection of Internet traffic is likely to deliver a commercial benefit to the Respondent and/or it agents and associates.
It is noteworthy that there is no denial of such redirection of traffic, nor assertion that such redirection does not constitute use in bad faith.
When the domain name "GEbenefits.com" was registered on June 23, 2000, the international reputation of GE was well established. In light of the above findings, it is found that the registration was, on the face of it, made in bad faith.
Accordingly, the complainant has successfully made out all three of the above grounds and is entitled to appropriate relief.
The domain name should be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: March 21, 2001