WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
i2 Technologies Inc v. Richard Alexander Smith
Case No. D2001-0164
1. The Parties
The Complainant is i2 Technologies Inc, 909 E. Las Colinas Blvd., 16th Floor, Irving, Texas 75039, United States of America.
The Respondent is Richard Alexander Smith, 16 Astor Avenue, Romford, Essex RM7 9JH, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in issue is <i2technology.com>.
The Registrar is Core International Council of Registrars.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on January 30, 2001. There were some procedural deficiencies on the part of the Complainant. There was an initial failure to sign the original Complaint, failure to serve the Registrar, and failure to specify at least one mutual jurisdiction. Eventually, these were dealt with and the proceedings were brought in compliance.
The Center took steps that included the following to ensure compliance with applicable rules and procedures. On February 22, 2001, the Center requested an amendment to the complaint to deal with mutual jurisdiction. This was received on March 1, 2001. On March 8, 2001, the Center requested an amendment to the Complaint to deal with the absence of a signature and requested that service of appropriate documentation be properly effected on the identified registrar. On March 28, 2001, the Center sent Respondent a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding. On April 17, 2001, a response was received from the Respondent and an Acknowledgement of Receipt was provided on April 23, 2001.
The sole Panelist, Howard P. Knopf of Macera & Jarzyna in Ottawa, Canada was appointed on May 15, 2001, after having accepted the invitation from the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center"), and after having declared his impartiality and independence.
The Center and the Panelist are satisfied that procedural compliance has been achieved in this matter.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is the owner of rights in several trade mark registrations and applications in various countries. The ones being most relied upon are:
1 April 1996
9 and 42
10 November 1998
|9, 16, 37 and 42|
i2 (word mark)
10 November 1998
|9, 16, 37 and 42|
It should be noted that, according to the material supplied by the Complainant, this Community application, #987826 is being opposed.
The Complainant also lists and documents an American registration:
I2 (word mark)
|21 January 1994||Classes 9, 37 and 42|
a U.K. registration:
31 October 1994
The trade mark registrations are generally along the lines of wares involving computer software for use in manufacturing, planning and scheduling and services involving installation and other activities in relation thereto.
Many other registrations and applications from several countries around the world are referred to, many of which appear to be pending applications, and not all of which are evidenced in the Complainantís Annexe A. Some of the listed applications post date the registration of the domain name in question.
In any event the Complainant refers specifically only to the first three above mentioned trade marks in its actual argument.
It seems to be common ground that the Respondent registered the domain name in question on November 18, 1999, as shown in the WHOIS report attached to the private investigatorís report furnished by the Complainant in Annexe H.
It is also common ground that the Complainant is a very large enterprise and that the Respondent is very small. The Complainant maintains offices in many countries and had annual revenues USD $571 million in 1999. It does business with very large enterprises such as Hewlett Packard, Thomson Consumer Products, Sherwin Williams, etc. It has grown very rapidly since 1992. Its main Website apparently is at <i2.com>.
The Respondent, on the other hand, is a one person consultancy offering to provide services ranging from installations, upgrades and repairs to antiviral protection, cabling, local and wide area networks, and other services used by home and office clients. The Respondent maintains an active website at <i-two-tech.freeuk.com>, according to Respondentís Annexe G.
This is linked to by the domain name in question, namely <i2technology.com>.
There is no suggestion that the Respondent is not or has not actually been in business as a computer consultancy for at least 18 months. The Complainantís investigative report bears this out. The trade name of the Respondent is EYE TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY. The Complaint states and the Respondent does not dispute that there is no indication of the Respondent having sought registration of any trade mark in the U.S.A. or UK incorporating the "i2".
The Complainant states that:
"i2 Technologies has not authorized or agreed to use by Mr. Smith of the name or mark "i2", including the domain name <i2technology.com> and the domain name is not used in good faith."
5. Partiesí Contentions
Beyond that which is noted above, the Complainant alleges its trade marks, particularly No. 183897 are identical or closely similar to the domain name <i2technology.com>.
The Complainant further alleges that:
- upon being offered £100 sterling for the domain name in question, the Respondent said that he would only consider "serious" offers and referred to the possibility of selling the domain name and soliciting offers for it.
- The Respondentís business is run by him personally on a part time basis and single handedly, in contrast to that of the Complainant which is "a large US and multinational corporation".
- The Respondent "does not appear to provide consultancy services in any particular area, concerning any particular type of software. It therefore might provide services in direct conflict with i2 Technologies, or be thought or asked by others to do so."
- Since Mr. Smith has been in the IT industry for 15 years, he "would have been aware" of i2 Technologies when he registered the domain name in question.
The Complaint includes much material consisting of copies of annual reports, advertising and promotional material.
The Respondent does point out that he was approached by the Complainantís solicitors with a cease and desist letter and a demand to transfer the domain name, and that he had used the domain name in question for almost a year before hearing from the Complainantís solicitors. The Respondent denies that he ever tried to sell or solicit offers for the domain name in question.
The Respondents indicates Ė and the evidence filed by both parties corroborates Ė that it was the Complainantís solicitors who broached the offer of money. Apart from the initial offer of £100 sterling, no specific amount has been mentioned. The Respondent admits and the evidence supports his statement that he would consider "serious offers".
It is worth noting that the Complainantís initial demand letter dated October 20, 2000, (which was filed by the Respondent) threatened not only a UDRP proceeding, but High Court proceedings as well.
The essence of the Respondentís submission is that
"I had chosen "i2technology.com" as my domain because it reflected the nature of my services I wanted to advertiseÖ
The name "Eye towards Technology" is reflected in i2Technology"
6. Discussion and Findings
The first element of the classic UDRP trilogy to be decided is whether the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights.
The Complainant clearly does have some trade mark rights in "i2" in respect of computer software used for manufacturing and services in connection therewith. These may not be very strong rights in relation to the text "i2". Most of the registrations are only for logos, figurative or design marks and not for word marks. The Community application for the word mark "i2" noted above is comparatively recent and being opposed, according to the information supplied by the Complainant. The Complainantís argument mentions many trade marks but apparently relies only on its Community logo marks.
The Complainant does concede that the words TECHNOLOGIES and TECHNOLOGY are non-distinctive and not memorable.
At least one WIPO Panel has held that a domain name can be confusing with a stylized or design mark so as to cause confusion (WIPO Case No. D2000-1016; Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. v. Hector Rodriguez). The Complainant has subsisting design mark registrations, at least some of which predate the Respondentís registration of the domain name.
There may be little danger that a customer of the Complainant would enter into a contract with the Respondent for any services, given the different channels of trade and the great disparity in the size and capability of the two entities, a point emphasised by the Complainant. Nonetheless, there could conceivably be confusion in the sense that some potential customer of the Respondent may believe that the Respondent is somehow connected to or affiliated with or sponsored by the Complainant.
What is not a matter of speculation is that the Respondent has received numerous e-mail communications apparently intended for the Complainant. The Respondent himself points out that this is because it is natural for users to assume that if a person has an e-mail address of <firstname.lastname@example.org>, then it would normally follow that the website of the recipientís company would be www.i2.com. Likewise, it surely follows that a person who assumes that a companyís website is www.i2technolgies.com might address mail to <email@example.com>. It might very easily happen that the singular form of "i2technologies" could be used and e-mail could be sent to <firstname.lastname@example.org> that was intended for an employee of the Complainant.
The Respondent says that the singular is not the plural and that "This is clearly another WIPO case of "singular vs. Plural".
Of course, it is trite law and basic common sense that the mere change from singular to plural or vice versa is not sufficient to avoid confusion for trade mark purposes or passing off purposes. No one could expect to survive very long in the automotive field using the trade mark GENERAL MOTOR by arguing that it is singular and thus not confusing with the plural version.
In any event, the proof of the pudding is in these numerous misdirected e-mails, brought to the attention of the Complainantís solicitors apparently without asking by the Respondent himself. Ironically, the Complainant has supplied only one example from its own files of a misdirected e-mail.
The domain name in question would therefore appear to be confusingly similar to the Complainantís trade marks, in which the Complainant has rights.
Does the Respondent have any rights in the domain name?
The next hurdle that the Complainant must pass is to show that the Respondent has no rights in the domain name in question. In this instance, the Respondent says that he wanted his trade name EYE TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY to be "reflected" in the domain name and hence he chose <i2technology.com>. He also admits that he has the domain name <i-two-tech.freeuk.com>, to which the disputed domain name diverts. The material filed by the Complainant in Annexe H (the private investigatorís report) indicates that the home page illustrates a human eye with the numeral "2" followed by the word "technology". This might create some colour of right for usage of a domain name with "EYE2" as a key element but not "i2".
There is no convincing attempt by the Respondent to explain why he did not use a domain name along the lines of <eyetowardstechnology>, <eyetotechnology> or even <eye2technology>, assuming that they were available at the relevant times and which surely would have better reflected his trade name. The Panelist observes, although nothing turns on this, that the domain name <eye2technology.com> appears to be available at the time of writing this decision, based upon a visit by the Panelist to the <nsi.com> web site.
Whether such registration and usage would survive a High Court case or another UDRP proceeding at the behest of the Complainant is clearly not for this Panel to decide or speculate upon. It is common knowledge that the number "2" is used in the "dot.com" world as a stylish abbreviation of the word "to". Indeed, the Complainantís promotional material is full of such usage in the context of B2B ("business to business"), etc.
This is not to be taken as suggesting that such domain names would not necessarily give rise to difficulties either in the courts or under the UDRP. However, it would be clearly more closely related to the Respondentís chosen trade name or trade mark (assuming that he actually delivers services using the name EYE TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY). It would also be less confusing, at least as a domain name, with <i2technology.com> because it is probably safe to assume that nobody would type in "EYE2" hoping to get to the Complainantís web site <i2.com>.
The Respondent points out that the Complainant does not use its domain name <i2technologies.com> (which identically reflects its corporate name and several of its trademarks) as an active website, choosing instead to use the shorter <i2.com>. However, the Complainant is not obliged to actively use a domain name that is the same as its corporate name or even of its trade name or trade marks. Its failure to actively use this domain name does not give the Respondent any colour of right to register something confusingly similar.
Finally, the Respondent cannot claim that it has rights under paragraph 4(c) of the UDRP.
"(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue."
The facts simply do not fit. Under the first exception the Respondent must show that he is making a bona fide offering of goods or services before he had notice. This cannot be the case if the Respondent knew of the Complainantís trade mark rights and deliberately chose a confusingly similar domain name. The Complainant has alleged that the Respondent would have had actual knowledge, given its reputation amongst professionals. Whether or not this is the case, the Community and U.K. registrations would impart constructive knowledge. This is the essential purpose of intellectual property registration statutes. It entails that anyone in the jurisdiction covered by the registration is deemed to know of the existence of the registrations, whether or not they actually know. In any event, the Respondent does not deny the Complainantís allegation that he would have had actual knowledge of the existence of the Complainantís trade marks. The second and third exceptions clearly are inapplicable on the evidence presented by the Respondent.
Paragraph 4(b) of the UDRP indicates that bad faith can be established based upon any one of the following non-exhaustive indicia:
"(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have 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 your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location."
It is clear that the Complainant has the burden of proving bad faith and bears the primary burden of proof although the onus may shift to the Respondent if sufficient evidence is put forward to call for an answer (WIPO Case No. D2000-1480; Office Club, Ltd. v. John Adem).
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent resell the domain name in question for a profit. True, he states in an e-mail after finally receiving an offer for £100 sterling that "However, if approached as was the case here - I would only consider serious offers presented to me. I have decided to decline your clientís offer. I am willing to take part in any discussions to resolve this matter".
The Complainant alleges that this refers to the possibility of selling the domain name and soliciting offers for it and refers to the correspondence in Annexe F, the only apparently inculpatory passage having been quoted in the passages quoted. To the contrary, an examination of Annexe F simply does not support this allegation. There are no words in the e-mail correspondence which explicitly or implicitly lead to the conclusion that the Respondent has ever or would ever want to sell the domain name, much less solicit offers for it. Indeed, the indication is to the contrary and the Complainant has no evidence and makes no attempt to suggest otherwise. Bad faith cannot be sustained under the first of the four indicia.
Indeed, a response to an offer of a nominal amount of consideration with a suggestion that a more substantial amount may be acceptable is not itself conclusive of bad faith. Negotiation is to be encouraged and is not per se bad faith. "The mere discussion of a possible settlement itself constitutes bad faith" (WIPO Case No. D2000-0161; Zero International Holding GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft v. Beyonet Services and Stephen Urich, para. 7.7). To so hold would be to encourage entrapment, and would discourage amicable resolution of disputes where UDRP or litigation results are less than clearly predictable. In this case, the Complainant expressly threatened High Court litigation, which gives credibility to the Respondentís evident willingness and even eagerness to negotiate. The Complainant can hardly complain that its strong cease and desist letter achieved this result.
Other than the foregoing, the only allegation of facts in the Complaint that can support an allegation is that the Respondent chose <i2technology.com> when he trades as "EYE TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY". The Respondent also points out that there have been numerous examples of misdirected e-mails, even though the evidence for this emanates from the Respondent. There is evidence consisting of one e-mail from one Candace Meade filed by the Complainant that this person visited Respondentís website looking for the Complainant.
While it clearly is not in the Respondentís interest to receive e-mail directed to the Complainant that cannot possibly lead to any business for the Respondent, the Respondent cannot escape the fact that he is receiving e-mails intended for the Complainant because of his choice of the domain name in question.
In an e-mail dated January 12, 2001, the Respondent says to the Complainantís solicitor that:
"Iím getting very concerned about the amount of e-mails Iím receiving and forwarding to your clients "i2technoliges.com".
As a goodwill gesture Iíve forwarded every "i2technoliges.com" emails. I have been doing so for many months.
The emails coming via me are containing sensitive, confidential, Personal details and business related material.
I would like to resolve this matter sooner rather than later.
I still await a response from your clients.
Do you have any news?"
This would seem to constitute an admission by the Respondent that a significant amount of traffic, or at least e-mail, is being diverted from the Complainantís mail server at its <i2.com> URL to the Respondentís mail server at its <i2technology.com> URL. Copies of these various messages were entered into evidence by the Complainant its Exhibit D. The Respondent himself states:
"Itís common knowledge that if oneís email address is <email@example.com> then in majority of cases the web address would be prefixed with "www." Of [sic] the said Domain name used for the email."
This would seem to bring the Respondent within the fourth indicia of bad faith, namely that he intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his web site by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís mark ("i2") as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of his web site or of a product or service on your web site or location. Even if it is virtually impossible that any potential customer of the Complainant would actually use the services of the Respondent (given the very different services and capabilities of the two entities), the fact remains that at least one person seeking to find the "i2" website ended upon on the Respondentís website and numerous persons sent him misdirected e-mail. It is conceivable that some clients of the Respondent may have thought that the Respondent was affiliated with or endorsed by the Complainant, which brings the fourth indicia into play. All of this could have been avoided had he chosen a domain name, perhaps based upon "eye" (for which he had a colour of right) rather than "i", for which he did not.
Therefore, even though based largely on the Respondentís admissions, a case of bad faith has been made out.
In view of the above findings, the Panel hereby orders that the domain name <i2technology.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Howard P. Knopf
Dated: June 4, 2001