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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. Cindy Reid
Case No. D2001-0495
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, a corporation organized under the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, with a principal place of business at Petuelring 130, Munich, Germany. The Respondent is Cindy Reid of 716 Camp Road, Denton, MD 21629, USA.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The domain names in dispute are <bmwassist.com>, <bmwassist.net>, <bmwassist.org>, <bmwassistplus.com>, <bmwassistplus.net> and <bmwassistplus.org> ("the Domain Names"). The Registrar for <bmwassist.com> is Network Solutions. The Registrar for the other Domain Names is CORE, specifically CORE 11 (Dusseldorf).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed at the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") by email on April 4, 2001 and in hard copy on April 6, 2001. Details of the registrations were confirmed by CORE on April 10, 2001 and by Network Solutions on
April 12, 2001. The Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding was sent to the parties on April 20, in the case of the Respondent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (the email address of the Respondent according to the whois data for each of the Domain Names), email@example.com (the email address of the Administrative and Billing Contacts according to the whois data for BMWassist.com and of the Aministrative, Technical and Zone Contacts for the other Domain Names), namehost@WORLDNIC.COM (the email address of the Technical Contact according to the whois data for BMWassist.com) and postmaster@ each of the Domain Names, as well as by fax and courier to the number and address indicated for the Respondent in the whois data for each of the Domain Names. The fax transmission and emails to postmaster@ the respective Domain Names were not successful. There is no evidence that the communications by other means did not reach the Respondent.
Having reviewed the file, the Panel concludes that the Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements and was properly notified to the Respondent.
There having been no Response to the Complaint, the Center gave Notification of Respondent Default on May 11, 2001. The single member Panel, Jonathan Turner, submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence and was duly appointed on May 16, 2001.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a well-known manufacturer of motor vehicles. Its name is frequently abbreviated to "BMW", and this is registered as its trade mark in many countries, including the United States. The Complainant has also used the names "BMW ASSIST" and "BMW ASSIST plus" since July 14, 1999 to refer to "telematic" services provided to owners of cars manufactured by the complainant equipped with a global positioning navigational system and mobile telephone. The services comprise automatic assistance in the event of accident or breakdown and the provision of information about traffic, fuel stations, cinemas, restaurants or hotels in the vicinity of a vehicle’s location. These services are currently offered under these names only in Germany but have been publicized internationally under these names through the Complainant’s website at www.BMW.com and articles in the press.
From the information in the whois databases, it appears that the Domain Names were registered by the Respondent on December 19, 1999. The Complainant became aware of the registrations on December 7, 2000, at which point the domain name BMWassist.com was connected to a web site which listed all of the Domain Names, with the statement "For sale as a GROUP only for $150,000." The Respondent’s email address was listed on the web site. The whois record for BMWassist.com also included the phrase "THIS DOMAIN FOR SALE" in the Administrative Contact field. None of the other Domain Names was active.
By letter of December 7, 2000 sent by registered mail, the Complainant requested the Respondent to discontinue further use or reference to any BMW trademark and to transfer the Domain Names to the Complainant. A reminder letter was sent on
January 16, 2001, again by registered mail. This was subsequently returned unclaimed, at which point an email dated February 21, 2001 was sent to the Respondent requesting her reply to the original letter. The Respondent replied by email dated
February 25, 2001, stating: "I do not open attachments from strangers, unless you can provide me with registered trademarks for bmwassist and or bmwassistplus leave me alone and stop harassing me."
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to the trade marks "BMW ASSIST" and "BMW ASSIST plus" in which it has common law rights. Alternatively, the Complainant contends that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the trade mark "BMW" in which it has registered as well as common law rights.
The Complainant further submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Names and points to the offer of the Domain Names for sale as evidence of bad faith.
As noted above, the Respondent has not submitted a response to the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
It is necessary first to determine the appropriate language of this Proceeding. Under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Rules"), unless otherwise agreed or specified in the Registration Agreement, the language of the Proceeding should be "the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding".
In the case of the Domain Name registered with Network Solutions, the language of the Registration Agreement is English. In the case of the other Domain Names, registered with CORE 11 (Dusseldorf), the Registration Agreement is in both German and English and specifies that both versions "are to be considered as one". This agreement cross-refers to a version of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Policy") in English.
The Panel considers that in these circumstances the language of the Registration Agreement may be taken to be English for the purpose of paragraph 11(a) of the Rules. However, if and to the extent necessary, the Panel determines that the language of the Proceeding shall be English. This has the advantage of avoiding unnecessary expense on translations and the inconvenience of having to consider the Domain Name registered with Network Solutions separately from those registered with CORE 11. The Respondent is resident in the United States and has replied to the Complainant’s correspondence in English. It is clear that the Respondent will not be prejudiced by the Proceeding being conducted in English.
In accordance with paragraph 4 of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Policy"), a complainant must prove (i) that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
As to the first requirement, the Panel considers that the respective Domain Names are identical to the trade marks "BMW ASSIST" or "BMW ASSIST plus" for the purpose of the Policy. For this purpose it is appropriate to ignore the gTLD suffices; see Decision D2001-0154 (KCTS.com). The Panel is also satisfied that the Complainant has unregistered rights in these marks at least in Germany. In the absence of any indication of an intention on the part of the Respondent to restrict her use of the Domain Names to a localized business, the Panel considers that common law rights in any country, including Germany, are relevant. Furthermore, the Panel considers that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the trade mark "BMW" in which the Complainant has registered rights in, inter alia, the United States, where the Respondent is located. Even to a person not familiar with the services provided under the names "BMW ASSIST" or "BMW ASSIST plus", they would indicate some form of assistance provided by the Complainant.
As to the second requirement, the Panel considers that the Respondent does not have any right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Names. The only use made by the Respondent of the Domain Names has been to offer them for sale at a substantial price.
As to the third requirement, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Names in bad faith, in particular for the purpose of selling them to the Complainant for a consideration in excess of the cost of registration and/or to prevent the Complainant from reflecting the marks "BMW ASSIST" and "BMW ASSIST plus" in a corresponding domain name. This is shown by the registration of the series of Domain Names which are identical to the names used by the Complainant for its "telematic" services, followed by their offer for sale as a package at an elevated price. The Panel also considers that the registration of these six Domain Names is sufficient to constitute a pattern of conduct within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(ii) of the Policy, cf. WIPO Decision D2001-0102 (nikewomen.com et al.)
The Panel further considers that the use of the Domain Names by a person other than the Complainant would be likely to cause confusion and that these Domain Names should accordingly be transferred to the Complainant.
The Panel decides that the Domain Names <bmwassist.com>, <bmwassist.net>, <bmwassist.org>, <mwassistplus.com>, <bmwassistplus.net> and <bmwassistplus.org> should be transferred to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG of Petuelring 130, Munich, Germany.
Dated: May 21, 2001