WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Vivendi S.A., The Seagram Company Ltd., Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., Universal Studios, Inc., and Universal City Studios, Inc. v. CPIC NET
Case No. D2000-0685
1. The Parties
The Complainants in this administrative proceeding are Vivendi S.A., a French corporation with a principal place of business in Paris; the Seagram Company Ltd., a Canadian corporation with a principal place of business in Montreal; Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Indiana, with a principal place of business in New York; Universal Studios, Inc., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware, with a principal place of business in Universal City, California; and Universal City Studios, Inc., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware, with a principal place of business in Universal City, California. The Respondent is CPIC NET, of Closter, New Jersey.
2. The Domain Names and Registrars
The domain names in dispute are as follows:
The domain names were registered by Respondent with Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) and Register.com, Inc. on either June 13 or 14, 2000.
3. Procedural Background
On June 27, 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 31, 2000.
In a communication dated August 18, 2000, Complainants sought permission to supplement the record by submitting to the panel new facts and authority relevant to the case 1.
Respondent failed to file a Response and a "Notification of Default," dated August 21, 2000, was sent to Respondent by WIPO.
The decision of the Panel was due to WIPO on or before September 12, 2000.
4. Factual Background
As set forth in the Complaint, Complainant Vivendi has used its VIVENDI trademarks both in France and elsewhere since May 1998, and has registered its marks in France, the U.S. and many other countries in connection with a variety of goods and services, including telephones and telecommunications services. See Complaint, Exhibit 7.
Complainant Seagram is a diversified company that operates in four global business segments: music, filmed entertainment, recreation, and spirits and wines. The SEAGRAM mark has been used by Seagram and its affiliates since 1857. The SEAGRAM or SEAGRAM-formative marks has been registered in more than 150 countries. See Complaint, Exhibit 8.
Universal Studios, Inc. and its Universal City Studios, Inc. subsidiary are leading entertainment companies. Universal City Studios, Inc. owns a number of U.S. trademark registrations for the mark UNIVERSAL, as used in connection with entertainment services and motion picture films. See Complaint, Exhibit 9.
Complainants Vivendi and The Seagram Company Ltd. 2 have announced a planned merger, which is expected to result in a business to be named "Vivendi Universal". "On or about June 13, 2000, an article about the planned merger was published in several electronic news services." See Complaint, Exhibit 4. That same day, Respondent commenced registering the disputed domain names.
On June 22, 2000, counsel for Vivendi wrote to Respondent's contact, Mr. Syed Hussain, notifying him that his registration of vivendiuniversal.org infringed Vivendi's trademark and trade name rights and demanded that Mr. Hussain transfer the domain name registration to Vivendi. See Complaint, Exhibit 6. Mr. Hussain failed to respond to the letter.
On June 26, 2000, Complainants' attorney received a telephone message from Mr. Hussain. The message stated that Mr. Hussain had no intention of using the disputed domain names and that he was interested in negotiating an amicable resolution of the dispute. Counsel returned the call on June 30. During the conversation, Mr. Hussain indicated that he makes his living out of this type of activity and that other companies have paid a lot for domain names. Counsel offered to reimburse Respondent for the expenses incurred in registering the domain names, but Mr. Hussain declined the offer. When asked what he wanted, Mr. Hussain indicated that he would not name a price but that he felt entitled to a "fee" for his services and emphasized that mere reimbursement of his expenses "won't put food on my table." See sworn Affidavit of Jeffrey D. Neuburger attached as Exhibit 15 to Additional Submission.
This is not the first time Mr. Hussain has been involved in a dispute brought under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. For example, an earlier Panel, in a dispute brought by the United States Olympic Committee, found that Mr. Hussain registered and used the domain name USOLYMPICSTORE.COM in bad faith and ordered the domain name transferred to the United States Olympic Committee. See United States Olympic Committee v. MIC, Case No. D2000-0189 (WIPO May 4, 2000). The facts of that case resemble those in the instant dispute insofar as the record established that, after reading a press release announcing plans by the United States Olympic Committee and NBC to open an online U.S. Olympic Store, Mr. Hussain registered the domain name in dispute. In another case, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. v. CPIC Net c/o Syed Hussain (NAF, May 31, 2000), Mr. Hussain was found to have knowingly and in bad faith registered the domain names MSDWPRIVATEEQUITY.COM and MSDWPE.COM.
The facts further establish that Mr. Hussain has registered more than fifty (50) domain names, many of which are variations of, or combinations of, names of well-known companies, including TIMEWARNER-CETV.COM, VODAFONEMANNESMAN.COM, and OLIVETTICNOST.ORG. See Additional Submission, Exhibits 20 and 21.SEE
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainants contend that there is no doubt that each of the disputed domain names is confusingly similar to Complainants' marks, that Mr. Hussain cannot prove any legitimate interest or rights in any of the domain names in issue, and that the facts establish that Mr. Hussain registered and uses the domain names in bad faith.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panel has carefully weighed the evidence presented and determines that Complainants have established all of the elements required under paragraph 4.a. of the Policy.
Each of Respondent's domain names incorporates in full the VIVENDI mark, in combination with either the UNIVERSAL or SEAGRAM marks and, thus, are either identical or confusingly similar to Complainants' marks. The minor differences that do exist, for example, the addition of the terms "inc", "corp", "tv", "music", and "movie" to the domain names, are legally insignificant. Further, Complainants clearly have rights to the VIVENDI, UNIVERSAL, and SEAGRAM marks, as evidenced by their existing registrations and widespread use.
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 paragraph 4.c. of the Policy is applicable.
With respect to the issue of "bad faith" registration and use, the Panel determines that Respondent has registered the domain names in order to prevent Complainants from reflecting the marks in corresponding domain names and has engaged in a "pattern" of such conduct, within the meaning of paragraph 4.b.(ii) of the Policy. The evidence further establishes that Respondent registered the disputed domain names primarily for the purpose of transferring the registrations to Complainants for consideration in excess of out-of-pocket expenses, within the meaning of paragraph 4.b.(i) of the Policy.
In view of the above, the Panel GRANTS Complainants' request for transfer to Complainant Vivendi of the following domain names:
Jeffrey M. Samuels
Dated: September 12, 2000
1. In an e-mail dated August 21, 2000, the Case Manager communicated with Complainants’ counsel acknowledging receipt of the additional submission and noting that the materials would be forwarded to the Panel, "in whose discretion it rests whether to take them into account." While, as the Case Manager noted, the Policy and Rules do not provide for further submissions apart from the Complaint and Response, the Panel will exercise its discretion under the Rules (see ¶10) and consider Complainants’ additional submission.
2. Complainants Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc, Universal Studios, Inc., and Universal City Studios, Inc. are subsidiaries of The Seagram Company Ltd.