WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Easyjet Airline Company Ltd v. Andrew Steggles
Case No. D 2000-0024
Complainant is Easyjet Airline Company Ltd. at Easyland, Luton Airport, Bedfordshire LU2 9LY, UK (hereinafter referred to as "Easyjet").
Respondent is Andrew Steggles living at 520W 43rd Street, App. #2K, New York, NY 10036, U.S.A. (hereinafter referred to as "Steggles").
The Domain Name(s) and Registrar(s)
The domain name in issue is "www.easyjet.net"; the Registrar is Network Solutions, Inc.
The complaint was filed on February 28, 2000. 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 Easyjet appears Mr Ian Bartlett of Beck Greener, 7 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, London. The administrative and billing contact for Steggles is himself.
The complaint was properly notified in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 2(a), to the representative of Easyjet by email and to Steggles by email on the emailaddress firstname.lastname@example.org.
The administrative panel was properly constituted, the undersigned panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
The Center received a written Response from Steggles on February 25, 2000 by email and on February 28, 2000 by courier. The parties were duly notified by the Center of this Response in its email of March 2, 2000.
The Center issued on March 3, 2000, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding to Steggles.
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 17, 2000. After the scheduling of this date the Center received a further submission from the representative of Easyjet on March 13, 2000 in which a supplement to the complaint and submissions in reply to the Response were given. This submission was sent to Steggles who gave a reply which was also sent to the Panel and to the Center by email on March 9, 2000.
a. The Trademarks
The complaint is based on ownership of the tradename and trademark consisting of the word EASYJET. According to the documents filed as Annex 1-3, Easyjet is the owner of a number of trademark rights on the basis of registrations, amongst others, in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux, Norway, Sweden, Benelux and Switzerland. Most of these registrations were applied for in 1995. The company (as appears from Annex 1) was incorporated on March 17, 1995. It concerns registrations for different classes of goods and services, predominantly in connection with air transportation. Easyjet submits that the EASYJET trademark is used predominantly in connection with such activities. Easyjet furthermore submits that the majority of its ticketsales are made through its websites. Furthermore Easyjet is the owner of a number of ccTLDs registrations, such as Easyjetairlines.co.uk, Easyjetair.co.uk and Easyjet-airline.co.uk as well as similar names as gTLDs.
b. The Complaint
Easyjet submits that the domain name www.easyjet.com is identical to the trademark EASYJET described above. Furthermore, it is submitted that Steggles 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.
A printout of the first webpage of the Streggles is annexed to the complaint as Annex 4 and only shows 4 sentences being the following:
"Click here for Hoover's easy-jet vacuum cleaners.
If you would like to buy this site, send an offer to email@example.com
For alternate cheap airline reservations, try one of the following links: Ryan Air, BA's GO-FLY"
Easyjet filed the first page of the result of a click on the first line cited in the aforementioned quotation. It concerns the webpage of a store in Hudson, New York acting under the tradename Miele Vacuum Cleaner Store.
The complaint in supporting it, further mentions as circumstances of the case the following:
- no use by Steggles of the domain name was established for any business activities;
- to the best of Easyjet's knowledge, Steggles has no rights to any trademark consisting of the word EASYJET in any country;
- an email was sent by Easyjet to Steggles on January 20, 2000 responding to the offer for sale on the webpage of Steggles concerning the site and asking what Steggles regards as a fair price; in the same email Easyjet requested to point the site away from Go-Fly.com; Easyjet expressed that it understood that Steggles tried to sell it to Go-Fly and that this was refused; Steggles replied the same day saying that due to the number of hits on the site, he was not in a hurry to sell it, but that, notwithstanding this, he could be persuaded if the right offer was made; he believed that a fair value would be in the range of six figures; he also understands the anxiety about having it point to Go-Fly.com and that he would have this redirected elsewhere shortly.
c. The Response
In his response Steggles submits that he decided in January 1999 to start a business in the form of a service on the Internet which was aimed to concentrate on the repair of periferal electrical goods, such as printers, irons, coffeemachines and vacuum cleaners. He submitted to adopt the domain name easyjet.net because this name has a "catchy nature, combined with a generic nature of the name i.e. easyjet vacuums; jetprinters; jet direct (printer network cards). He further submits that he registered the domain in good faith. He also acknowledges that he was fully aware of the existence of Easyjet Airline Ltd. because he used to live in the U.K. Notwithstanding this, this company had no influence on the decision to create the new .net name. He also submits that he checked the U.S. State Trademark Offices to ensure that the name Easyjet was not registered in the U.S.A., which check was done in February 1999. He also acknowledges that his business was never incorporated and that the business name was for a "sole trader".
He also submits as Annex 2 the first two pages of a website which according to him was launched by him in April 1999 but which was retired from its initial purpose due to the lack of interest of visitors. This website, for which the domain name www.steggles.net was used, indeed shows an offer for services with the heading "EasyJet Electrical Repairs". It was a site under construction and apparently, it would give an opportunity to get entrance into a datebase allowing customers to find the nearest electrical repair center. Furthermore, it outlines that EasyJet would offer a full replacement service for any item whose repair value is greater than the costprice value. Finally, it is submitted that on the basis of what was expressed in the Response, there is a legitimate interest in respect of the domain name and the domain name was not registered and is not being used in bad faith. It also submitted in this context that the use of the domain name has not caused any confusion to visitors and finally that the domain name was offered in good faith to Easyjet at costprice.
5. Discussion and Findings
I. The allowability of further submissions
The first question to be dealt with is whether or not further submissions like the ones which were filed after the initial Complaint and Response can be allowed if such submissions are not made on the request of the Center or the Panel. The Rules provide for the filing of a Complaint (art. 3), the notification of the Complaint and the fixation of the commencement of the administrative proceeding (art. 4), the filing of the Response (art. 5) and the appointment of the Panel and timing of the Decision (art. 6). The Rules do not provide for the possibility of filing further submissions with the exception of art. 12 where it is said that the Panel may, in its sole discretion, request further statements or documents form the Parties. The further submissions in this case which were not requested by the Panel will therefore not be taken into account.
II. The decision on the merits
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, Easyjet must proof each of the following circumstances:
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or servicemark in which Easyjet has rights; and
(ii) Steggles 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 Easyjet.
b. Rights or legitimate interests
Steggles does not operate any business using the domain name easyjet and has no rights to any tradenames or trademarks consisting in whole or in part of the word "Easyjet". No registration of any company was filed from which the tradename Easyjet appears. The only interest Steggles submits in using the name Easyjet is that this name is of a catchy nature, combined with the generic nature of the name. The Panel understands that the defence in fact boils down to saying that there would be a need to be able to describe the activities which were planned in a generic way.
The Panel, however, is of the opinion that the combination of the words easyjet for activities in the area of repair or replacement of vacuum cleaners, printers, etc. is not a generic description of such activities or products. The combination of the words "easy" and "jet" is not a combination that needs to be kept free for use by companies for such type of products and/or services. An attempt to offer such services under the domain name www.steggles.net failed because of lack of interest in the market.
The relevant website has been withdrawn and does not form the object of this complaint.
With respect to the website that forms the basis of the complaint Steggles did not demonstrate any serious preparations to use the domain name easyjet.net in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The link to a website of a vacuum cleaner store in Hudson does not demonstrate such use. This website does not reveal any use of the name easyjet, nor does Steggles provide any evidence that the link was made with the permission of this store. The fact that there is no demonstrable serious attempt to use the domain name for certain goods or services is also evidenced by the fact that the webpage besides the link to the aforementioned store only contains an offer to buy the site.
c. Bad faith
The Panel is of the opinion that the registration and the use of the domain name is made in bad faith. As circumstances supporting this conclusion, it should first be mentioned that from the beginning the domain name easyjet.net referred to an offer to buy the site which furtheron does not refer to any serious business. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that Steggles knew about the activities of Easyjet, which amongst others on the basis of huge advertising campaigns became a well-known mark in a number of countries, not only countries in the European Union, but also in the United States. The fact that Steggles originally had links to two of Easyjet's major competitors, one of them being Go-Fly, is a clear indication that the domain name was primarily registered for the purpose of disrupting the business of Easyjet. The fact that after the request by Easyjet for an assignment of the domain name and a fair price for such assignment the suggestion was made of a price consisting of six figures also clearly indicates that Steggles registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling it to Easyjet who is the owner of the trademark and even to competitors of Easyjet, as mentioned before. It is also clear that the fact that an amount of six figures was suggested, indicates that it concerns an amount in excess of out-of-pocket costs directly related to the registration of the domain name.
In light of the foregoing, the Panel decides that the domain name registered by Steggles is identical to the trademark of Easyjet, that Steggles has no legitimate interests in respect of this domain name, and that the domain name in issue has been registered and is used in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel requires that the registration of the domain name www.easyjet.net be transferred to Easyjet.
Prof. Charles Gielen
Date: March 17, 2000