WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ronson Plc v. Unimetal Sanayi ve Tic.A.S.
Case No. D2000-0011
Complainant is Ronson Plc, International House, Old Brighton Road, Lowfield Heath, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0QN, England (hereinafter referred to as "Ronson").
Respondent is Unimetal Sanayi ve Tic.A.S., Buyukdere Cad. No 107/7, Bengun Han, Gayretteppe, Istanbul 80300, Turkey (hereinafter referred to as "Unimetal").
The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s)
The domain name in issue is "www.ronson.com"; the Registrar is Network Solutions, Inc.
The complaint was filed on January 21, 2000 per email and on January 25, 2000 per mail. The Center verified that the complaint satisfies the requirements of the Rules and Supplemental Rules and that payment was properly made. The Panel checked whether indeed the complaint satisfies these requirements, which is the case.
The complaint was properly notified in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a), to the parties. As representative for Ronson appears Mr Joss Alcraft, Hughes Watton Solicitors, 69 Eccleston Square in London. The administrative and billing contact for Unimetal is Mr Cem Bilginer at the address of Unimetal mentioned above.
The complaint was properly notified in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a), to the representative of Ronson by email and to Unimetal by mail, facsimile and email.
The administrative panel was properly constituted, the undersigned panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
The Center issued on January 28, 2000, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding to Unimetal announcing a delay of twenty calendar days from the date of receipt of the Notification during which a response according to the requirements of the Rules and Supplemental Rules has to be submitted announcing furthermore that the last day for sending such response to Ronson and the Center is February 19, 2000. Since no such response was filed in time, the Center issued a Notification of Respondent Default, in accordance with the Rules. No further submissions were received by the Center or by the Panel as a consequence of which the Center scheduled a date for the issuance of the Panel's decision, being March 9, 2000.
On March 6, 2000, the Center advised the Parties via email that it received a request made by Ronson that the Panel exercise it discretion pursuant to rule 16 (b) of the ICANN Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy not to publish the decision in full on a publicly accessible website when the same is available.
a. The Trademarks
The complaint is based on ownership of the trademark consisting in whole or in part of the word RONSON. In the latter case it concerns: "Ronson since 1896". According to the documents filed as Annex A, B, C and D, Ronson is the owner of a number of trademark rights on the basis of registrations, amongst others, in the United Kingdom, the European Community and the Republic of Turkey. It concerns registrations for different classes of goods, predominantly in connection with lighters, smoker's accessories, watches and jewellery, perfumes and after-shave lotions, pens and like goods. Ronson submits that the RONSON trademark is used predominantly in connection with such goods. Ronson furthermore declares its intention to use the RONSON trademark in the future in connection with the on-line sale of such goods and a provisional website is designed via which the on-line sale of such goods will be started at the location www.ronson.co.uk. The registrations mentioned above date back to, amongst others, April 12, 1995 in the U.K. and September 23, 1998 and April 8, 1999 in the European Community, and since July 31, 1995 and December 15, 1995 in the Republic of Turkey.
b. The Complaint
Ronson submits that the domain name www.ronson.com is identical to the trademark RONSON described above. Furthermore, it is submitted that Unimetal has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name and finally, the domain name has been registered and is used in bad faith.
The complaint in supporting it further mentions as circumstances of the case the following:
- no use by Unimetal of the domain name was established;
- to the best of Ronson's knowledge, Unimetal has no rights to any trademark consisting of the word RONSON in any country;
- a telephone conversation took place between the representative of Ronson and Mr Emiroglu on 25 March 1998, concerning the registration of the domain name informing him that he would seek a transfer of the domain name. Mr Emiroglu informed the representative of Ronson that he had received instructions for the registrations of the domain name by Mr Bilginer and that he would gladly initiate the transfer to Ronson of the domain name upon receiving instructions from Bilginer to do so. In a further telephone conversation on the same day, initiated by the representative of Ronson with the IT-manager of Unimetal, Mr Kalic, Mr Kalic told the representative of Ronson that Mr Bilginer would probably require financial reimbursement in connection with the transfer. In a third telephone conversation on the same day, the representative of Ronson spoke to Mr Bilginer who said that he would be prepared to initiate a transfer of the domain name to Ronson upon payment of US$ 25,000, which amount was brought down in the same telephone conversation to US$ 20,000. The contents of these telephone conversations were not put down in writing. No follow-up was given and somewhere in March 1999 the representative of Ronson telephoned and spoke again to Mr Bilginer with the intention once more of reaching an agreement. At that time Mr Bilginer informed the representative of Ronson that he would expect a sum of US$ 70,000 in order to initiate the transfer of the domain name. Furthermore, the representative of Ronson was told that if this offer was not accepted the figure would rise to US$ 100,000 in the year 2000. Mr Bilginer also informed the representative of Ronson that he had registered domain names for several organisations with some of which he was in conflict at that time and he specifically referred to the registration of the domain name www.alaindelon.com. The representative of Ronson carried out an investigation into the WHOIS-database and apparently indeed this was correct. To the best of the knowledge of Ronson, Unimetal has no connection or affiliation whatsoever with Alain Delon-products. On January 19, 2000 the representative of Ronson sent an email to Mr Bilginer, which is annexed to the complaint, informing Mr Bilginer that Ronson still wishes the transfer of the domain name to itself and for this reason he requested information whether there is a change in the amount originally requested (US$ 70,000). A reply was received on January 21, 2000, in which it was said that the previous offer of US$ 70,000 is valid.
c. The Response
No response with respect to the complaint was received by the Center or by the Panel.
5. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, Ronson must proof each of the following circumstances:
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or servicemark in which Ronson has rights; and
(ii) Unimetal has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The policy furthermore describes illustrative circumstances which form the basis of the above-mentioned proof.
a. Identity and confusing similarity
It is clear on its face that the domain name in issue is identical to most of the trademarks of Ronson.
b. Rights or legitimate interests
Unimetal has not given any indication whatsoever that they have any right or legitimate interest in the sign RONSON. First of all, Ronson submitted that it did not find any registrations in any country of the trademark RONSON in the name of Unimetal, which has not been contested by Unimetal. Furthermore, no use of the sign RONSON by Unimetal was established. This submission has not been contested by Unimetal either.
c. Bad faith
The Panel is of the opinion that the registration of the domain name took place in bad faith. As circumstances supporting this conclusion, it should be mentioned first of all that no legitimate interest or use in or with respect to the sign RONSON could be established on the side of Unimetal. Secondly, upon request to transfer the domain name, Unimetal immediately indicated its willingness to transfer the domain name for an amount of US$ 70,000 of which it later on indicated that it would be raised to US$ 100,000 in the next year, which is an amount indicating that the domain name was registered primarily for the purpose of selling it to the rightful owner of the trademark RONSON in, amongst others, Turkey. It should be noted that Unimetal did not file a defence against the submission by Ronson that Unimetal was in bad faith.
The complaint should therefore be honoured with the exception of the Request not to make the decision public. It has not been argued by Ronson why publication should not be made in this case. Reference is made to paragraph 4 (j) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution which says that publication of (parts of) the decision shall not be done in exceptional cases. It has not been proven by Ronson why this is such a case. The Panel considers it to be of public interest that the decision is published in full.
In light of the foregoing, the Panel decides that the domain name registered by Unimetal is identical to the trademark of Ronson, that Unimetal has no legitimate interests in respect of this domain name, and that the domain name in issue has been registered in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel requires that the registration of the domain name www.ronson.com be transferred to Ronson.
The Panel denies the request that the Provider shall not publish this decision in full on a publicly accessible website.
Prof. Charles Gielen
Dated: March 11, 2000