WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Universität Stuttgart v. Junge Union Stuttgart
Case No. D2000-1767
1. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is University of Stuttgart, Keplerstrasse 7, D-70174, legally represented by the Chancellor in Charge, Mr. Joachim Schwarze, Stuttgart, Germany.
The Respondent is Junge Union Stuttgart, Seyfferstrasse 40 a, D-70197, Stuttgart, Germany.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed Domain Name is <unistuttgart.com>.
The Registrar of the Domain Name is BulkRegister.com with business address at 7 East Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA.
3. Procedural History
3.1 On December 19, 2000, Complainant submitted a Complaint to the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center ("Center") pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP") approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") on October 24, 1999, and under the rules for the UDRP approved by ICANN on the same date ("UDRP Rules"). The Complaint and Exhibits were received by the Center in hardcopy on December 27, 2000. The Center acknowledged receipt of the Complaint on December 21, 2000.
Due to some minor deficiencies the Complaint was later amended and the final complaint as well as the requested hard copies were received by the Center on January 8, 2001.
3.2 On December 29, 2000, a Request for Registrar Verification was transmitted to BulkRegister.com. In an e-mail to the Center dated December 29, 2000, BulkRegister.com confirmed that it is the Registrar for the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com>.
3.3 Having verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the UDRP and the UDRP Rules, the Center sent on January 8, 2001, a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding to the Complainantís authorized representative by facsimile and e-mail; to the Respondent by post, facsimile and e-mail. The Center advised the Respondent that the Response was due no later than January 30, 2001.
3.4 A Response was filed by the Respondent within the time specified in the Notification of Complaint on January 24, 2001.
3.5 The Complainant requested a suspension of the Administrative Proceedings on January 30, 2001, until February 28, 2001; on February 27, 2001, until March 30, 2001; on April 22, 2001, until May 21, 2001; on May 18, 2001, until June 20, 2001; and on June 27, 2001, until July 20, 2001. The requested suspensions were notified by the Center to the Complainant and the Respondent. The Complainant and the Respondent acknowledged receipt of the Notifications of Suspension.
3.6 After the expiry date of the last suspension the Center proceeded to appoint a single-member Panel and invited Dr. Torsten Bettinger to serve as a Panelist in this Administrative Proceeding.
Having received the Panelistís Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, the Center issued a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel and set a decision date, with the Panelistís deadline for issuing a decision of September 7, 2001.
The Center transmitted the case file to the Panelist on August 24, 2001.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is Universität Stuttgart, or, in short, "Uni Stuttgart," the German University of the City of Stuttgart. The University is internationally known especially for its departments of engineering and economics.
According to Par. 1 and 2 of the German University Act of January 10,1995, The Complainant is entitled and obliged to bear the name of "Universität Stuttgart." The University of Stuttgart holds the Domain Name <uni-stuttgart.de>.
The Respondent is the youth organization of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). It is the registrant of the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> and operates a website at <unistuttgart.com> on which it publishes information about its political activities.
The Respondent is not associated with the Complainantís institution, has not sought the consent of the Complainant for Registration of the Domain Name and does not operate a university in Stuttgart.
5. Partiesí Contentions
The Complainant asserts that the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> is identical or confusingly similar to the corresponding name of the Complainant known as Universität Stuttgart, or, in short, "Uni Stuttgart" in which the Complainant has exclusive rights.
The Complainant argues that the common German abbreviation and indicator of the word and term "university" is "uni". Thus, the average user of WWW Services, such as search engines, would be highly likely to confuse the Respondentís Website with the Complainantís Website. As a result, this would lead to misleading and deceiving of users on the Internet, and thereby finally to dilution of the Complainantís name. The Complainant says that such confusion already had occurred since the Complainant had been informed about the URL by a considerable number of people who expected to find the University of Stuttgart under the said Domain.
Further, the Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant says that relating to the name "Universität Stuttgart," Complainant has a long-standing right, whereas the Respondent, whose name is "Junge Union," is not entitled to use this name in commerce or elsewhere because Junge Union is not acting on behalf of the Complainant and has no authorization from Complainant to act on its behalf.
Finally the Complainant submits that the Domain Name has been registered and used in bad faith.
The Complainant says that the use of the disputed Domain Name creates the impression that it is the legitimate and official web page address of the Complainant and that any of the information contained therein will be the accepted official statements, views and/or comments of the Complainant. The Complainant says that the way in which the Respondent is using the Domain Name is misleading because he is using it to spread his own, unauthorized information. Thus, the average users of WWW Services were likely to be irritated by expecting the Website of the Complainant and finding that of the Respondent. As a result, this would bring about misleading and deceiving of users on the Internet. It would finally lead to a dilution of the Complainantís name and would definitely lead to annoyance among interested parties.
The Complainant requests that the Administrative Panel issue a decision that the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent does not deny the facts which the Complainant asserts, and the Respondent does not deny the conclusions which the Complainant asserts can be drawn from these facts. The Response merely states that the Respondent "does not lay claim to the involved Domain."
6. Discussion and Findings
Pursuant to paragraph 4(a), the Complainant must prove that each of the following three elements are present if it is to prevail:
(i) The Respondentís Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent 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.
a. Identical or confusingly similar (paragraph 4(a)(i))
The Respondent has registered the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com>. This Domain Name is confusingly similar to the name under which the Complainant is internationally known and to which the Complainant has statutory rights in Germany, namely, Universität Stuttgart. Such names enjoy a legal protection equivalent to trademark or servicemark protection in many jurisdictions and must be considered as being covered by the UDRP, cf. WIPO Case No. D2000-0308: <oxford-university.com> and WIPO Case D2000-0378: <universityofalberta.com> and <albertau.com>.
b. Rights or legitimate interests (paragraph 4(a)(ii))
The Respondent has not provided evidence of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or any other circumstances giving rise to a right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name. The panel finds that since the Domain Name could not be used by anyone except for the Complainant under German law, the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> and that the requirement of the UDRP Paragraph 4 (a) (ii) is satisfied.
c. Bad faith (paragraph 4 (a) (iii))
Paragraph 4(b) of the Rules sets out four non-exclusive criteria which shall be evidence of the registration and use of a Domain Name in bad faith as follows:
(i) the Respondent has registered or has acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the Domain Name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondentís documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name; or
(ii) the Respondent has registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding Domain Name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct: or
(iii) the Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the Domain Name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website or location or of a product or service on its website or location.
The Panel has no doubt that the Respondent was obviously aware of the existence of the Complainant and that the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> could not be used by anyone except for the Complainant under German law.
Further, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent must have known that the use of the Domain Name for their Website would attract people looking for the official site of the Complainant and thus would mislead and deceive users on the Internet and that this inevitably and to the Respondentís knowledge would be able to disrupt or otherwise harm the reputation of the Complainant.
In the circumstances, the only possible explanation for the Respondentís selection of the Domain Name is that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of attracting Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís name.
Such use of the Domain Name is use of the type contemplated by paragraph 4(a)(iv) of the Uniform Policy and, accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> in bad faith.
The Panel thus decides that:
1) the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainants name "Universität Stuttgart;"
2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com>;
3) the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> has been registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent.
Pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Policy and pursuant to paragraph 15 of the Rules, the Panel requires that the Registrar, BulkRegister.com, transfer the Domain Name <unistuttgart.com> to the Complainant.
Dr. Torsten Bettinger
Dated: August 30, 2001