WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
PwC Business Trust V. Wei-Ling Liao
Case No. D2000-1668
1. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is PwC Business Trust, a Delaware business trust which has a principal place of business at 1301 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10019, U.S.A.
The Respondent is Wei-Ling Liao, whose address is 168 North Beacon Street, Apt. #1, Brighton, Massachusetts 02135, U.S.A.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in dispute is as follows: <mypwc.com>. The domain name was registered by Respondent with Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) on June 16, 1999.
3. Procedural Background
On November 30, 2000, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") received from Complainant via e-mail a complaint for decision in accordance with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, 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).
On December 13, 2000, the Center e-mailed Complainant's attorney requesting that the Complaint be amended to the effect that Complainant expressly consent, with respect to any challenge to the Panel's decision to transfer or cancel the disputed domain name, to jurisdiction in the location of the domain-holder's address. Such an Amendment was submitted to the Center on December 15, 2000.
The Complaint, as amended, 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 December 20, 2000.
Following Notification of Commencement of Administrative Proceeding, Respondent, in an e-mail to Center dated January 7, 2001, indicated that "[t]he domain name <mypwc.com> was requested to be deleted from Network Solution's (sic) database on
December 11, 2001, please be advised that I do not own this domain name." In an e-mail dated January 9, 2001,the Case Manager advised Respondent that the domain name would remain on "hold" pending the outcome of the Complaint. On January 12, Complainant's counsel, Mr. Adler, e-mailed Respondent advising her that, pursuant to Network Solutions' WHOIS database, she is still the current registrant of the domain name and seeking confirmation that Respondent would be willing to transfer the domain name. In an e-mail dated January 13, 2001, Complainant's attorney advised the Case Manager that he was in the process of determining whether Respondent will transfer the domain name to Complainant. On January 22, 2001, Respondent e-mailed Mr. Adler advising him that "I do not wish to keep the domain name, and its ownership (sic) will expire in a few months. I don't have time to find and pay a notary public to do the transfer work. Your client can have it after June. The domain name was obtained for a women's portal site, but they've gone out of business and never used this domain name for any purposes." The next day,
January 23, 2001, Complainant's counsel e-mailed the Case Manager indicating Complainant's intention to proceed with the ICANN action. On January 25, 2001, Respondent e-mailed both the Case Manager and Complainant's counsel indicating as follows: "Again, I do not wish to keep the domain name and I made seveal (sic) requests to Network Solutions in December to delete it. I don't need or want this domain name! I really don't have time to find a notary public to do all the transfer work and can we inform Network Solutions of my willingness to give up this domain name?"
The decision of the Panel was due to the Center on or before February 18, 2001.
4. Factual Background
Complainant was formed in June 1998, and owns all right, title and interest in and to the PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS and PWC names and marks for the benefit of the member firms of the worldwide PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) organization. The PwC organization arose from the merger of two internationally well-known accounting firms --Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand.
PwC's member firms make up the world's largest professional service organization, providing a full range of business and advisory services to leading companies and public institutions. The member firms of PwC have offices in most countries and in most major cities and have around 9,000 partners and over 150,000 employees. Total revenue of the member firms of the worldwide Pricewaterhouse Coopers organization for the period July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999 exceeded $17.3 billion.
On the date of the merger, July 1, 1998, Complainant filed a number of U.S. trademark applications for the mark PWC, as used on or in connection with a broad array of goods and services, including computer software, accounting, investment banking, consulting, and advisory services. These applications are still pending. See Complaint, Exhibit D.
Complainant has obtained trademark registrations for the PWC mark in numerous countries and territories around the world, including China, the European Union, Mexico. New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan. See Complaint, Exhibit E.
PwC has spent substantial sums promoting the consulting and other services rendered under the PWC mark.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant contends that the domain name in issue is confusingly similar to its mark because it misappropriates Complainant's PWC mark in its entirety. According to Complainant, the domain name is extremely likely to be confused with Complainant's mark because it links Complainant's distinctive mark with the short pronoun "my", suggesting that the domain name is affiliated with Complainant and further suggesting that the website located at the domain name offers personalized services provided by Complainant.
Upon information and belief, Complainant further alleges that Respondent has not made use of the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor has Respondent made any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. As of the commencement of this dispute, Complainant maintains, any attempt to access the <mypwc.com> website resulted in a "Cannot find server or DNS Error." See Complaint, Exhibit F. Further, Complainant indicates, Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name. Thus, Complainant concludes, Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the mypwc domain name.
With respect to the issue of "bad faith" registration and use, Complainant contends that Respondent had both actual and constructive notice of Complainant's rights in the PWC mark. According to Complainant, Respondent wrongfully registered the domain name with the intent of extracting commercial and financial benefit either from misled Internet users or from Complainant and to free ride on Complainant's global reputation and enormous customer goodwill.
6 . Discussion and Findings
The Panel has carefully reviewed the evidence presented and determines that Complainant clearly has met all the requirements set forth in Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
First, there is no question that the domain name in dispute is confusingly similar to Complainant's PWC mark. The inclusion of the generic terms "my" and ".com" in Respondent's domain name is without legal significance.
It is also clear that Complainant, through its extensive use of, and registrations covering, the PWC mark, has rights in the marks.
The Panel further determines that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name. The evidence establishes that Respondent has not made use of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services and is not known by the domain name.
Finally, there is ample evidence of "bad faith" registration and use. The Panel finds that Respondent's registration of the domain name, in view of Complainant's extensive and exclusive use of the PWC mark around the world, is evidence of the requisite "bad faith." See Young Genius Software AB v. MWD, James Vargas, WIPO Case No. D2000-0591 (respondent had duty to check on availability of complainant's trademark). The Panel further determines that Respondent's passive holding of the domain name also constitutes evidence of "bad faith." See Chernow Communications v. Kimball, WIPO Case No. D2000-0119; Mondich and American Wine Biscuits, Inc. v. Brown, WIPO Case No.D2000-0004.
In view of the above, the Panel GRANTS Complainant's request for transfer to it of the domain name <mypwc.com>.
Jeffrey M. Samuels
Dated: February 18, 2001