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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Direct Line Insurance Plc and Direct Line Group Services Limited v. Gainadomain
Case No. D2002-0871
1. The Parties
The Complainants are Direct Line Insurance Plc and Direct Line Group Services Limited of 3 Edridge Road, Croydon, Surrey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is Gainadomain of Easter House, 99 Seymour Grove, Manchester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in dispute is <directlinecar.com> ("the Domain Name"). The Registrar is Melbourne IT Limited ("the Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") in electronic form on September 17, 2002, and in hard copy with attachments on September 24, 2002. The Registrar verified on September 23, 2002, that it was the Registrar of the disputed Domain Name, that the Respondent was the Registrant and that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy applied. The Registrar had not at that date received the Complaint, but the Panel has no reason to doubt that a copy was posted to the Registrar as stated in the Complaint.
The Center’s formal requirements checklist was completed on September 27, 2001. Notification of the Complaint was sent the same day to the Respondent and to its administrative and technical contacts by email, fax and post, in accordance with the details provided in the Registrar’s whois database, and also to firstname.lastname@example.org. Delivery to the last-mentioned email address appears to have failed, but delivery to the other addresses appears to have been successful.
No Response having been received from the Respondent, the Center sent the Notification of Default on October 21, 2002, by email and post to the Administrative and Technical Contacts of the Respondent in accordance with the details provided in the Registrar’s whois database.
Having submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, Jonathan Turner was appointed as the Sole Panelist on October 25, 2002.
Having reviewed the file, the Panel concludes that the Complaint complied with the applicable formal requirements, was properly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a duly appointed Panel in accordance with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Policy") applicable to the Domain Name.
4. Factual Background
The First Complainant and/or its subsidiaries carry on a well-known motor vehicle insurance business in the United Kingdom under the name "Direct Line." The First Complainant has registered "DIRECT LINE" and "DIRECTLINE.COM" as trade marks in the United Kingdom for insurance and other services and for various goods. The First Complainant has also registered "DIRECT LINE" as a trade mark for insurance services in several other countries.
The Respondent registered the Domain Name on March 6, 2000, but does not appear to have used it. The Respondent has stated in correspondence with the Complainants that the Domain Name is "available for sale to anybody in the world" and that the Respondent "will ensure as far as possible that it will not be used in any way that leads people to think that it is linked to the Direct Line company or product or service."
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainants contend that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the First Complainant’s registered trademarks "DIRECT LINE" and "DIRECTLINE.COM"; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in using it; and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith in order to sell it to the Complainant or a competitor or potential competitor of the Complainant.
The Respondent has not submitted a Response in these proceedings. In correspondence with the Complainant, the Respondent asserted that the Domain Name could be used by other businesses trading under names including or consisting of "Directline."
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4 of the Policy, the 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 Domain Name is confusingly similar to the First Complainant’s registered trade marks, particularly as the marks are well-known in relation to car insurance.
As to the second requirement, it is clear that the Respondent does not have any right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name.
As to the third requirement, the Respondent has admitted in correspondence that the Domain Name is for sale. Since the Respondent has never used the Domain Name, it is reasonable to infer that the Respondent registered it for the purpose of sale at a profit. Although the Respondent has suggested that other businesses have used names consisting of or including "Directline", the Domain Name here is <directlinecar.com>, which is likely to be of particular interest to a person wishing to exploit the Complainants’ reputation in relation to car insurance. Furthermore, this must have been evident to the Respondent when it registered the Domain Name.
The Panel attaches little weight to the Respondent’s statement that it "will ensure as far as possible that it will not be used in any way that leads people to think that it is linked to the Direct Line company or product or service." The Respondent is unlikely to be able to control a purchaser of the Domain Name, and the assurance sits ill with the Respondent’s conduct in choosing to register a Domain Name so obviously liable to be associated with the Complainants.
The Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Panel accordingly concludes that the Domain Name should be transferred to the First Complainant.
The Panel decides that the domain name <directlinecar.com> should be transferred to the First Complainant, Direct Line Insurance Plc.
Dated: October 29, 2002