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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sallie Mae Inc. v. AceDog Admin, CH KOH
Case No. D2007-1235
1. The Parties
Complainant is Sallie Mae Inc., of Reston, Virginia, United States of America.
Respondent is AceDog Admin and CH KOH, of Punggol Central, Singapore.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The Disputed Domain Name <salliemaeconsolidation.com> is registered with Direct Information Pvt Ltd d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (“Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 21, 2007. On August 23, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Registrar a request for verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On August 24, 2007, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response, indicating that the party identified in the Complaint as Respondent, AceDog Admin, was not the name of the registrant of the Disputed Domain Name but that the registrant was CH KOH. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on August 24, 2007, to add CH KOH as Respondent. The Center verified that the Complaint with the amendment (hereinafter phrased “Complaint”) satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on August 27, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for response was September 16, 2007. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on September 18, 2007. Respondent then advised the Center that it did not receive the formal notification of August 27, 2007. On September 19, 2007, in order to put beyond any doubt that Respondent was given a fair opportunity to present its case, the Center resent the Complaint and extended the deadline to October 9, 2007 for Respondent to file a response. On September 19, 2007, Respondent confirmed receipt of the Center’s formal notification of the Complaint. Respondent still did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 10, 2007.
The Center appointed Mark Ming-Jen Yang as the sole panelist in this matter on October 17, 2007. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
4. Factual Background
Complainant’s portfolio of US trademarks for, or derived from, the mark SALLIE MAE (hereinafter, SALLIE MAE Trademarks) includes the following United States of America federal registrations:
“SALLIEMAE” - Reg. No. 1337128 (May 21, 1985)
“SALLIE MAE” - Reg. No. 1646267 (May 28, 1991)
“SALLIEMAE CUP” - Reg. No.2 383132;
“SALLIE MAE SOLUTIONS” - Reg. No.2447641;
“SALLIE MAE 10K” - Reg. Nos. 2438321 and 2535793;
“SALLIE MAE VALLEY CLASSIC RACES” - Reg. Nos. 2471463 and 2473400;
“SLM FINANCIAL CORPORATION A SALLIE MAE COMPANY” - Reg. No. 2577328; and
“SALLIE MAE CASH BACK” - Reg. No. 2701947.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered on March 18, 2007.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar with the SALLIE MAE Trademarks in which it has rights, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name, and that Respondent registered and uses the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
One requirement of fundamental due process is that a respondent has notice of proceedings that may substantially affect its rights. The Policy, Rules and Supplemental Rules establish procedures intended to assure that a respondent is given adequate notice of proceedings commenced against it, and a reasonable opportunity to respond (See, e.g., Rules, paragraph 2(a)).
In this case, the Panel is satisfied that the Center took all steps reasonably necessary to notify Respondent of the filing of the Complaint and initiation of these proceedings, and that the failure of Respondent to furnish a Response to the Complaint is not due to any omission by the Center. There is sufficient evidence in the case file for the Panel to conclude that the Center discharged its obligations under Rules, paragraph 2(a) (See Procedural History, supra).
In case of default, under paragraph 14(a) of the Rules, “the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the complaint”, and under paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, “the Panel shall draw such inferences [from the default] as it considers appropriate”. Furthermore, paragraph 15(a) of the Rules provides that a “Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems appropriate”. Since Respondent has not submitted any evidence, the Panel must render its decision on the basis of the uncontroverted evidence supplied by Complainant.
On the issue of the identity of Respondent, the Panel has read Complainant’s August 24, 2007 amendment to Complaint and the circumstances alleged therein that precipitated such amendment. There is evidence of evasion or other inappropriate activity by Respondent in response to the Complaint, and so the situation is not abundantly clear. But the Panel concludes that Respondent is “CH KOH”, and that “AceDog Admin” might have been merely the “front” name, and considers this conclusion is a fair one, especially in the absence of response to the Complaint when all reasonable due process was extended by the Center (See Section 3, Procedural History, supra). Out of an abundance of certainty and to ensure the Panel’s decision is efficacious, the Panel considers both names as identifying Respondent.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, to succeed in this UDRP proceeding, Complainant must meet three requirements that will be considered in turn below.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing) that it has rights in the SALLIE MAE Trademarks and that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar thereto.
In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing) that Complainant “is a wholly owned subsidiary of SLM Corporation… commonly known as Sallie Mae, is the nation’s No. 1 paying-for-college company, managing more than $123 billion in student loans for more than nine million borrowers. Sallie Mae is the country’s largest originator of federally insured student loans…Complainant’s SALLIE MAE mark and ‘salliemae.com’ website are essential components of its marketing program. Through its global use in commerce for over 30 years, the SALLIE MAE mark has become distinctive. SALLIE MAE and <salliemae.com> have acquired valuable goodwill, being well known and commonly associated with the facilitation and administration of loans to students pursuing post-secondary education…In addition to other products and services, Sallie Mae is the largest consolidator of student loans in the United States...”.
In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing), the following, “…The disputed domain name not only incorporates the Sallie Mae mark verbatim but also adds a word describing one of Complainant’s products, ‘consolidation’, to the mark, and is therefore confusingly similar to Complainant’s SALLIE MAE marks”.
In conclusion, the Panel accepts Complainant’s contentions supported by the evidence of record that it has rights in the SALLIE MAE Trademarks and that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar thereto, and concludes that the first requirement of the Policy is met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing), that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.
In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing) the following: “The Respondent, AceDog Admin, who is not affiliated with Sallie Mae, registered the disputed domain name on July 5, 2007, long after Sallie Mae had made use of its ‘salliemae.com’ website in the marketplace and well after Sallie Mae had established itself and the association of its name with educational lending for post-secondary school education…The domain <salliemaeconsolidation.com>, to the best of Sallie Mae’s knowledge, is not an acronym of the Respondent’s name, a trading name, or its nickname. Respondent is using the aforementioned domain name to re-direct Internet users to other websites offering financial services in competition with Complainant’s services. The disputed domain name at one point provided links to the following competitors of the Complainant: ‘nextstudent.com’, ‘wellsfargofinancial.com’, ‘amone.com’, ‘debtrite.com’, ‘beneficial.com’, and ‘debtconsolidation.delraycc.com’, among others…Sallie Mae has not licensed the Respondent to use its name and service marks for this or any other purpose, and Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name <salliemaeconsolidation.com>.
Respondent has provided no arguments or evidence of legitimate interests to counter Complainant’s contentions on this issue. By virtue of the statutory rights in the SALLIE MAE Trademarks (provided by the registrations in the United States of America (Section 4, Factual Background, supra)), and of the common law rights associated with the SALLIE MAE Trademarks (that flow from Complainant’s contentions about the scope of its business activities and fame in the marketplace (Section 6A, supra)), Complainant convincingly argues that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. The Panel, especially in the absence of any response from Respondent, considers that the circumstances described in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, of proof of rights or legitimate interests by Respondent in the Disputed Domain Name, likely do not exist.
The Panel concludes that the second requirement of the Policy is met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Complainant contends that Respondent registered and uses the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing), the following: “The Respondent, AceDog Admin, who is not affiliated with Sallie Mae, registered the disputed domain name on July 5, 2007, long after Sallie Mae had made use of its ‘salliemae.com’ website in the marketplace and well after Sallie Mae had established itself and the association of its name with educational lending for post-secondary school education.”
In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted and convincing), the following: “…Respondent is using the aforementioned domain name to re-direct Internet users to other websites offering financial services in competition with Complainant’s services…”
The Panel concludes that the third requirement of the Policy is met.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <salliemaeconsolidation.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Mark Ming-Jen Yang
Dated: October 31, 2007