WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
British Olympic Association, et al v. Gijong Song
Case No. DBIZ2002-00041
1. The Parties
Complainants are (1) British Olympic Association with its place of business at 1 Church Row, Wandsworth Plain, London SW 18 1EH, United Kingdom, and (2) the International Olympic Committee with its place of business at Chateau de Vidy, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland. Complainants are represented in this proceeding by Emma L. Pettipher, Boult Wade Tennant.
Respondent is Gijong Song, an individual whose address is 1886-5, Jeongwang 2 -dong, Siheung-si, Gyeonggi-do, 464-709, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in dispute is <olympics.biz> (hereinafter "Domain Name").
The registrar for the Domain Name is EchoKorea Inc., d.b.a. DomainRG (hereinafter "Registrar"), which has its office at 1055-19, Insung Bldg. Suite #102, Namhyeon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
3. Procedural History
The present dispute has been raised in accordance with the Start-Up Trademark Opposition Policy for ".BIZ" ("STOP") adopted by NeuLevel, Inc. and approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on May 11, 2001, the Rules for Start-Up Trademark Opposition Policy for ".BIZ" ("the STOP Rules") and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centerís Supplemental Rules for Start-up Trademark Opposition Policy for ".BIZ" ("the Supplemental STOP Rules").
The Complaint was filed by Complainants before the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("Center") on April 25, 2002, by way of e-mail and on April 26, 2002, in hard copy, and the Center acknowledged its receipt of the Complaint on April 26, 2002.
On May 7, 2002, the Center transmitted to the Registrar a request for registrar verification on the language of the registration agreement for the Domain Name, and the Registrar replied on May 13, 2002, that the registration agreement for the Domain Name was written in Korean.
Upon the Registrarís verification on the language of the registration agreement, the Center informed Complainants on May 15, 2002, that the Complaint should be provided in the language of the registration agreement of the Domain Name. In response to the Centerís notice, Complainants submitted to the Center on May 29, 2002, a copy of the e-mail communication between the Complainantsí representative and Respondent in which Respondent agreed that the proceeding is to be held in English.
On May 28, 2002, Complainants requested for suspension of the proceeding and on June 25, 2002, extension of such suspension for possible settlement between the parties and, through the Centerís Notification of Suspension and the Notification of Extension to Suspension issued on May 29, 2002, and June 28, 2002, respectively, the administrative proceeding was suspended until July 30, 2002.
Upon failure of settlement between the parties and resumption of the proceeding, the Center notified the commencement of the proceeding, forwarding a copy of the Complaint to Respondent on August 22, 2002, and informing Respondent that the deadline for the Respondentís Response was September 11, 2002. Upon Respondentís failure to submit any Response by the deadline, the Center issued the Notification of Respondent Default on September 12, 2002.
On October 2, 2002, the Center notified the parties that Ms. Boh Young Hwang had been appointed as the Panelist in this proceeding, indicating that the Panelist had duly submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence to the Center. The due date for issuance of the Panelistís decision was set for October 25, 2002, but, upon the Panelistís request for extension, such due date was extended to November 2, 2002.
On November 1, 2002, the Panelist issued its STOP Procedural Order No. 1, requesting the Complainants to clarify, inter alia, whether or not the International Olympic Committee (hereinafter "IOC") is actual co-Complainant to this proceeding. In response to the Procedural Order, Complainants submitted on November 7, 2002, the IOCís written confirmation on its participation in the proceeding as a co-Complainant.
4. Factual Background
The IOC is an international non-governmental non-profit organization with an unlimited lifetime, in the form of an association with the status of a legal person recognized by the Swiss Federal Council. Constituted in 1984, the IOC has been the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement and has conducted, promoted and regulated the modern Olympic Games and led the Olympic Movement. The IOC has been registered and currently owns the trademark "OLYMPIC" ("Trademark") in a number of countries including Korea.
British Olympic Association ("BOA") is a private company limited by guarantee established under the laws of England and Wales. BOA has been engaging in promotion of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement at a national level based upon the Olympic Charter. As an entity regulated under the policy established by the National Olympic Committee of the Great Britain, BOA is linked to IOCís role for the Olympic Movement.
The Domain Name was registered by Respondent on March 27, 2002, and has never been in actual use since the registration.
5. Partiesí Contentions
A. Complainantsí Contentions (Summarized)
Complainants contend that:
- the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Trademark;
- Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name;
- Respondentís Domain Name was registered for the purpose of sale, to prevent the Complainants from registering the Domain Name, to unfairly disrupt the Complainantsí business or to attract the Internet users to the Domain Name by creating likeliwood of confusion with the Complainantsí mark.
B. Respondentís Contentions
Respondent failed to provide any Response to the Complaint. However, in his e-mailed letters to Complainants on April 29, 2002, and to the Center on July 26, 2002, Respondent repeatedly conveyed his position that he no longer has any interest in the Domain Name, that it would not matter even if the Domain Name were transferred or cancelled, and that he desires that the administrative proceeding be concluded as soon as possible in any feasible manner.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under the STOP, a Complaint can only be filed by an "IP claimant" who had filed an IP claim for a particular alpha-numeric string. If that string becomes registered as a ".biz" domain name, NeuLevel is to notify the IP claimant of such registration and invites the IP claimant to initiate a STOP proceeding within 20 days. NeuLevel determines priority if there are multiple claimants on a random basis (STOP Paragraph 4(2)(ii)). Only the claimant with priority will be invited to initiate a STOP Complaint. Such claimant is allocated a ticket number, which allows dispute resolution providers to verify whether a STOP Complaint is filed by the Claimant with priority. The service provider (in this case, the Center) then is required to advise the Panelist if a disputed domain name is subject to more than one claim. In the present case, no such advice has been given to the Panelist.
In order to establish the right to the transfer of a domain name from a Respondent, a Complainant under the STOP must demonstrate pursuant to paragraph 4(a):
(a) that the domain name is identical to the Complainantís trademark or service mark;
(b) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name;
(c) that the domain name was either registered or used in bad faith.
The Respondent may demonstrate a right or legitimate interest in a domain name. Circumstances similar to those under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy of ICANN (the UDRP) can be invoked by a respondent in order to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests. Similarly, the instances of bad faith exemplified in the UDRP can be invoked by a complainant. However, because STOP and STOP Rules come into play shortly after registration of a domain name, the focus of attention will be placed on the issue of whether there was bad faith on the part of the respondent at the time of registration.
As discussed hereinabove, Complainant IOC has registered the Trademark in a number of countries and, as a member of the Olympic Movement and linked to the IOCís role through the National Olympic Committee of the Great Britain, it is acknowledged that Complainant BOA also has a legitimate interest in the protection of the Trademark.
The Domain Name consists of <olympics.biz> and simple addition of "s" to the word "olympic" does not create any difference in its appearance, meaning and image. Therefore, it is found that the Domain Name is identical with the Trademark in accordance with Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the STOP.
According to the partiesí assertions and submitted documents, the Panel concludes that Respondent does not have any right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name in accordance with article 4(a)(ii) of STOP.
The term "olympic", the Trademark and the reputation and role of the IOC and the National Olympic Committee of each country are widely recognized in most parts of the world, and this is especially so in Korea which is the host nation of the 1988 Olympic Games. Therefore, unless the Respondent sufficiently demonstrates any other right or interest, there is a legal presumption with respect to any registration or use of the Trademark as a domain name for business purposes that such registration or use was made in bad faith for the purposes listed in the UDRP. In the present case, it is noted that the Respondent has made no such demonstration. Rather, as stated above, the Respondent repeatedly indicated that he is no longer interested in the Domain Name. In light of the above, Respondent is presumed to have admitted all of the assertions made by Complainants. Therefore, the Panel concludes that Complainants duly satisfied the criteria set forth in Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the STOP.
For the reasons stated above, the Panel finds that Complainants have successfully established the satisfaction of the three requirements set forth in Paragraph 4(a) of STOP and therefore, pursuant to Articles 4 and 15 of the STOP Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <olympics.biz> be transferred from Respondent to Complainants.
Boh Young Hwang
Dated: November 8, 2002