WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Chase Manhattan Corporation and Robert Fleming Holdings Limited v. Entertainment Charlotte
Case No. D2000-0619
1. The Parties
The Complainants in this administrative proceeding are the Chase Manhattan Corporation ("Chase"), a bank holding company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its headquarters located at 270 Park Avenue, New York, New York, and Robert Flemings Holdings Limited ("Flemings"), a holding company organized and existing under the laws of the United Kingdom, having its registered office at 25 Copthall Avenue, London EC2R 7DR, United Kingdom. The Respondent is Entertainment Charlotte, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain names in dispute are as follows: chasefleming.net; chase-fleming.net; chase-flemings.net; chasefleming.org; chaseflemings.org; chase-fleming.org; and chase-flemings.org. The domain names were registered by Respondent with Register.com on April 11, 2000.
3. Procedural Background
On June 16, 2000, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center received from Complainant, via e-mail, a complaint for decision in accordance with the Uniform Policy for Domain Name Dispute Resolution, adopted by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on August 26, 1999 ("Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 ("Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (Supplemental Rules).
The complaint was filed in compliance with the requirements of the Rules and the Supplemental Rules, payment was properly made, the administrative panel was properly constituted, and the panelist submitted the required Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
The instant Administrative Proceeding was commenced on July 3, 2000.
Respondent did not file a response, and a "Notification of Respondent Default" was sent by WIPO to Respondent on July 24, 2000.
The decision of the Panel was due to WIPO on or before August 10, 2000.
4. Factual Background
As set forth in the Complaint, Chase is a holding corporation whose subsidiaries are internationally recognized in the financial services arena. Since 1877, Chase or its predecessors and subsidiaries have used "Chase" as part of their trade name. In January 1989, the mark CHASE, as used on or in connection with various banking and financial services and publications, was registered (No.1,521,765) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. See Complaint, Annex D. The CHASE mark is also the subject of registrations in more than 70 countries throughout the world. See Complaint, Annex E. Chase also owns the domain name chase.com.
Complainant Flemings, established in 1873, is one of the leading managers of mutual funds and institutional money in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, and the United States. Flemings registered the stylized mark FLEMINGS, for use in merchant banking, securities trading and brokerage and investment management, on the United Kingdom Trade Mark Registry (No. 1369415) in January 1989. See Complaint, Annex F. Flemings also registered its name (word only) on the United Kingdom Trade Mark Registry (No.200321), for use in merchant banking, securities trading and brokerage and investment management, on October 31, 1994. See Complaint, Annex G. Flemings also owns the domain name flemings.com. Flemings now has a presence in over 40 countries and an ability to offer services around the world.
On April 11, 2000, Chase and Flemings announced Chase's offer to purchase Flemings. Press releases dated April 11 announcing the proposed acquisition stated that upon completion of the transaction, Flemings would be renamed "ChaseFlemings." See Complaint, Annex I.
Respondent registered the seven domain names in dispute on April 11, 2000. Respondent then offered each of the names for sale on the great.domains.com Internet site.
On April 18, a Chase trademark attorney contacted Respondent and demanded that the domain names in dispute be transferred to Chase. See Complaint, Annex J. In response, on April 25, Respondent's principal, Chuck Briggs, telephoned the Chase attorney. Briggs confirmed that his company no longer was posting the domain names on the Internet for sale, but then offered to sell all seven domain names to Chase for a total of $4,999. Chase declined the demand for payment. See Complaint, Annex K. Briggs responded by e-mail reserving his right of ownership to the domain names and indicating that he "will not be blackmailed into giving away names that I legally *** registered." See Complaint, Annex L.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainants contend that use of the CHASE and FLEMINGS marks is unauthorized and that the registered domain names are an "unabashed misappropriation of registered marks and such misappropriation satisfied the first prong of the Rules." Complainants further argue that Respondent's activities admit of no other interpretation than that it has no legitimate business interest in the domain names, since it posted them for sale in the first instance and offered to sell them to Chase.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel determines that Complainant has established all of the elements required under ¶4.a. of the Policy.
Respondent's domain names incorporate in full Complainant's registered marks CHASE and FLEMINGS. The addition of a hyphen in several of the domain names is legally immaterial. Under such circumstances, the Panel finds that the domain names are confusingly similar to marks in which the Complainants, both through registration and use, have rights and identical to the mark CHASEFLEMING, to which Complainants, through use of the mark, possess common law rights.
It is also clear that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. None of the circumstances set forth in ¶4.c. of the Policy is applicable.
With respect to the issue of "bad faith" registration and use, the Panel determines, based on the unrebutted evidence, that Respondent offered to transfer the domain names to Complainant Chase for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain names. Pursuant to the relevant Policy (see ¶4.b(i)), such circumstances constitute evidence of "bad faith" registration and use.
In view of the above, the Panel GRANTS Complainants' request for transfer to Complainant The Chase Manhattan Corporation of the domain names: chasefleming.net; chase-fleming.net; chase-flemings.net; chasefleming.org; chaseflemings.org; chase-fleming.org; and chase-flemings.org.
Jeffrey M. Samuels
August 6, 2000