WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
VEDA GmbH v. Mr. Nicholas Silverstone
Case No. D2002-1040
1. The Parties
Complainant is Veda GmbH ("Complainant") of Germany. Respondent is Mr. Nicholas Silverstone ("Respondent") of the United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name the subject of this Complaint is <veda.com>.
The Registrar is Address Creation. The remedy sought by Complainant is transfer of the domain name <veda.com> to Complainant.
3. Procedural History
On November 8, 2002, (by e-mail) and November 13, 2002, (in hard copy), Complainant submitted to the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") a Complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy") and the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules"). The Panel agrees that payment was properly made, that the Center rightly assessed the Complaintís compliance with the formal requirements; that Complaint was properly notified in accordance with paragraph 2 (a) of the Rules. Respondent was declared in default. The Panel agrees that it was properly constituted and that Panelist submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality. The Panel also acknowledges that no other proceedings are pending before any Justice Court.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is the owner of the trademark VEDA, registered in several countries of the world for computer software and computer-related services.
Respondent, Mr. Nicholas Silverstone of Reading, Berkshire (United Kingdom) registered the domain name <veda.com>. The registration of the domain name <veda.com> occurred, without dispute, well after trademark rights from the name VEDA were acquired by Complainant, and has no known connection with any activity or trade carried out under the trade name or trademark VEDA. There is no website operating at <veda.com> as of January 2, 2003.
5. Partiesí Contentions
a. Complainant claims that it is the owner of the well-known and largely used VEDA trademark for computer software and computer-related services, and that "VEDA is a self-created word".
b. Complainant claims that the domain name <veda.com> has been registered by Respondent in bad faith. Respondent could not ignore Complainantís trademark rights, nor has Respondent any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
c. Complainant claims that the domain name <veda.com> has been, or is being used by Respondent in bad faith as evidenced by the use of a false address and other suspicious circumstances.
a. Respondent is in default and, accordingly, has not challenged the conclusions of Complainant.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. General Principles
Under paragraph 4 (a) of the Policy, the Panel should be satisfied that:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name;
(iii) the domain name has been registered in bad faith;
(iv) the domain name is being used in bad faith.
B. Confusion with Complainantís Trademark
The Panel finds that Complainant has established that it is the owner of the trademark VEDA for computer software and computer-related services. The validity of its trademarks is beyond dispute. Respondentís domain name is identical to Complainantís Trademark, and to Complainantís quite well-known trade name.
C. Respondentís Absence of Rights or Legitimate Interests in the Domain Name
There is no evidence that Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests whatsoever in respect of a domain name, including the well-known trademark VEDA, or any association between the trademark VEDA and its activity. There is no evidence that Respondent intends to use the domain name through any fair or legitimate use. On this point also, Complainant prevails.
D. Registration in Bad Faith
The trademark VEDA is known well enough in the computer and Internet world that it is presumable that Respondent knew of it when registering the domain name (see Banca Sella S.p.A. v. Mr. Paolo Parente, WIPO Case No. D2000-1157; Expedia, Inc. v. European Travel Network, WIPO Case No. D2000-0137). Of course, Complainantís claim that "VEDA is a self-created word" is not correct. Almost a billion of Hindus would dispute that the name of their sacred scripture ("Veda" or "the Vedas") has been created by a German company. Respondent may have legitimately registered <veda.com> for a website devoted to selling religious Hindu literature.
Respondent, however, did not and does not claim a connection with Hinduism; it provided what seems to be a false address, and did not answer the Complaint. Nor did its predecessor, Mr. Gomez, claim any Hindu-related legitimate activity. A bona fide use of <veda.com> through a connection to Hinduism, or Hindu-related religious products or services, would justify a finding in favor of Respondent. However, the general attitude of Respondent does not allow for such a conclusion, and Complainantís arguments have not been answered.
The Panel concludes that the domain name has been registered in bad faith.
E. Use in Bad Faith
Complainant states that the domain name is being used in bad faith because of an alleged intention of selling it. There is no convincing evidence that this is the case. The Complainant does not clearly mention any other argument about "use in bad faith". As such, the Panel may conclude that Complainant has not proved that the domain name is used in bad faith pursuant to the Policy. This Panel, however, believes that the poor drafting of a Complaint should not deprive a Complainant of substantial justice, when arguments not explicitly mentioned in the Complaint are both somewhat obvious and may be inferred from the global structure of the Complaint. It is clear that, even if he never used or ceased to use the domain name, Mr. Siverstone is at least in a position of "passive holding". "Passive holding" has been recognised as sufficient in a number of cases (Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003 [quoted by Complainant, but in connection with false addresses as evidence of bad faith rather than "passive holding"]; Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. Frank Gully, d/b/a Advcomren, WIPO Case No. D2000-0021; Compaq Computer Corporation v. Boris Beric, WIPO Case No. D2000-0042; InfoSpace.com, Inc. v. Tenenbaum Ofer, WIPO Case No. D2000-0075; Association of British Travel Agents Ltd. .v. Sterling Hotel Group Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2000-0086; Marconi Data Systems, Inc. v. IRG Coins and Ink Source, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0090; Sanrio Company, Ltd. and Sanrio, Inc. v. Neric Lau, WIPO Case No. D2000-0172; J. García Carrión, S.A. v. M™ José Catalán Frías, WIPO Case No. D2000-0239; Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. v. [No Name], WIPO Case No. D2000-0515; Teledesic LLC v. McDougal Design, WIPO Case No. D2000-0620; Clinica Corachan, S.A. v. Fc Team Car, S.L., WIPO Case No. D2000-0723; Red Bull GmbH v. Harold Gutch, WIPO Case No. D2000-0766). This Panel sees no reason to challenge this prevailing opinion. Respondent, by remaining in default, has not offered any counter-argument.
The Panel concludes that the domain name <veda.com> is used by Respondent, although probably through passive holding only, and is used in bad faith.
Pursuant to Paragraph 4(i) of the Policy and Rule 15 of the Rules, this Panel orders that the domain name <veda.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Dr. Massimo Introvigne
Dated: January 2, 2003