WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Banco Zaragozano SA v. Mikato Muto
Case No. D2004-0062
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Banco Zaragozano S.A., Zaragoza, Spain, represented by UBILIBET, Spain.
The Respondent is Mikato Muto, Tokyo, Japan.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name is <banco-zaragozano.net> registered with Stargate.com.
3. Procedural History
The complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on January 26, 2004, by e-mail and in hard copy on February 5, 2004. On January 26, 2004, the Center transmitted by email to Stargate.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On February 2, 2004, Stargate.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant. In response to a notification by the Center that the complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the complaint on February 9, 2004. The Center verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Supplemental Rules").
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 10, 2004. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for response was March 1, 2004. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondentís default on March 2, 2004.
The Center appointed Miguel B. O'Farrell as the sole panelist in this matter on March 8, 2004. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
4. Factual Background
Banco Zaragozano S.A. is the owner of the community trademark registration no. 000895995 "BANCO ZARAGOZANO" in classes 35, 36 and 42, filed on August 4, 1998, and registered on March 20, 2002, in the European Unionís OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market).
Complainant also owns, since many years ago, many trademark registrations containing the name "Banco Zaragozano" including, "BANCO ZARAGOZANO S.A", "Z BANCO ZARAGOZANO", "BANZANO BANCO ZARAGOZANO S.A.", "SERVICIO DE BANCA TELEFÓNICA LÍNEA ABIERTA BANCO ZARAGOZANO", among others, registered in the Spanish Office of Trademarks and Patents.
It also owns the domain name <bancozaragozano.es> and <banco-zaragozano.es>.
Mikato Muto registered the domain name <banco-zaragozano.net> on March 2, 2003.
5. Partiesí Contentions
The Complainant asserts that:
Founded in 1910, Banco Zaragozano is a bank with 360 branches distributed throughout Spain. It provides employment to more than 1.500 people and enjoys an unquestionable level of recognition within and outside Spain. In mid-May 2002, the British bank Barclays Bank and Banco Zaragozano S.A. initiated negotiations towards a merger between the two corporations, which increased Banco Zaragozanoís popularity outside the Spanish border.
Since its foundation, it has used the name "Banco Zaragozano" for commercial dealings. It is also the owner of the community trademark "BANCO ZARAGOZANO" and the national trademarks "Z BANCO ZARAGOZANO", "BANZANO BANCO ZARAGOZANO S.A.", "BANCO ZARAGOZANO S.A", "SERVICIO DE BANCA TELEFÓNICA LÍNEA ABIERTA BANCO ZARAGOZANO", among others, registered in Spain, which predate Respondentís registration of the domain name <banco-zaragozano.net>.
The domain name <banco-zaragozano.net> is formed by the word "bank" in Spanish "banco" and the word "zaragozano" with a hyphen in the middle. Obviously, if we remove the suffix ".net", the trademark "BANCO ZARAGOZANO" is identical to the domain name in conflict.
The Respondent has no legitimate interests or rights in respect of the conflicting domain name. Respondent is not on record neither in the Spanish Office of Trademarks and Patents nor in the European Unionís OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) as owning any distinctive symbol under "Banco Zaragozano". Nor is there any record in the Japan Patent Office.
The Respondent is not commonly known by this domain name. A search for companies, entities, individuals or organizations bearing that denomination has turned up negative in Japan. A search on the Internet for "Banco Zaragozano" also failed to turn up any connection with the Respondent and therefore it seems obvious that the Respondent is not making any legitimate non-commercial or fair use of "Banco Zaragozano", nor it is known by this name.
Respondent is making an unfair and illegitimate use of the domain name with the intention to divert Internet users to a pornographic web page. Respondentís intention is nothing less than to besmirch the good name of Banco Zaragozano and his aim is to be pressured into selling the domain name and profit in an illegitimate way.
The domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The registration of a well-known trademark of which the Respondent must reasonably have been aware is in itself sufficient to amount to bad faith, and that is how various rulings have understood the issue. Banco Zaragozano is a very strong and notorious mark and is so obviously connected with the Complainant and its services that its very use by someone with no connection to the Complainant suggests opportunistic bad faith.
Respondent uses a notorious trademark as domain name to redirect internet users to an adult sex site in order to create a confusion and obtain an economic benefit because the web page pays Respondent $30 per signup.
"BANCO ZARAGOZANO" trademark is inherently distinctive and without any meaning other than as a trademark of Banco Zaragozano. Registration of this trademark in circumstances where the mark has no inherent meaning other than as a trademark of the Complainant, where the Respondent does not appear to be known under this mark, where Respondent does not appear to be using it in connection with any business and where the name resolves to an adult sex site, confirms that Respondent is indeed aware of the fame of "BANCO ZARAGOZANO" trademark and Complainantís rights in this trademark.
Finally, the Complainant requests that the domain name <banco-zaragonano.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainantís contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
To qualify for cancellation or transfer, the Complainant must prove each element of paragraph 4(a) of the UDRP, namely:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In accordance with paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
In accordance with paragraph 14(a) of the Rules, in the event that a Party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any of the time periods established by the Rules or the Panel, the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the complaint and (b) if a Party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
In accordance with paragraph 10(d) of the Rules, the Panel shall determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of the evidence.
In accordance with the above, in previous WIPO Cases in which the Respondent failed to file its response, the Panelís decisions were based upon the Complainantís assertions, evidence and inferences drawn from the Respondentís failure to reply (The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064) since Respondentís failure to dispute the allegations of the Complainant permits the inferences that the Complainantís allegations are true. (Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei v. Macros-Telekom Corp, WIPO Case No. D2001-0936).
Notwithstanding the above, the Panel must not decide in the Complainantís favor solely given the Respondentís default. (Cortefiel S.A. v. Miguel García Quintas, WIPO Case No. D2000-0140). The Panel must decide whether the Complainant has introduced elements of proof which allow the Panel to presume that its allegations are true.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the domain name <banco-zaragozano.net> is almost identical to the Complainantís trademark "BANCO ZARAGOZANO".
As held in numerous precedents, the addition of a hyphen and a suffix, in this particular case ".net", does not provide the domain name with distinctiveness (Info-Space.com v. Tenenbaum Ofer, WIPO Case No. D2000-0075; Pfizer, Inc. v. Martin Marketing, WIPO Case No. D2002-0793) and therefore, it is evident that the domain name in conflict creates confusion among the Internet users.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proved the first element required in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel understands that proving "a negative proposition can be particularly difficult" and agrees "that the burden on a Complainant regarding the second element is necessarily light, because the nature of the registrantís rights or interests, if any, in the domain names lies most directly within the registrantís knowledge" and that "once the Complainant makes a prima facie showing that the registrant does not have rights or legitimate interest in the domain name, the evidentiary burden shifts to the registrant to rebut the showing by providing evidence of its rights or interests in the domain name" (The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064).
Complainant has introduced different arguments in order to prove that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the conflicting domain name, namely: Respondent does not own neither in Spain nor in Japan any trademark containing the name "BANCO ZARAGOZANO"; Respondent is not commonly known by this domain name as a search in Japan for companies, entities, individuals or organizations bearing "BANCO ZARAGOZANO" has turned up negative; and that no connection between Respondent and the domain name was found on the Internet.
On the other hand, Respondent failed to file a reply and therefore it did not bring to these proceedings any element to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name in conflict.
In view of the above and in accordance with the paragraphs 15(a), 14(a) and (b) and 10(d) of the Rules transcribed above the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the conflicting domain name.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proved the second element required in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) the use of the domain name with the intention to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the web site by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainantís mark shall constitute evidence of the registration and use in bad faith.
As proved by the Complainant, the domain name <banco-zaragozano.net> diverts Internet visitors to a different web site. Complainant alleges that this web site consists of a pornographic web page and that Respondent obtains an economic benefit since "the web page pays to him $30 per signup".
As explained above, Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. Given the fact that Respondent has not filed a reply to the complaint nor filed any evidence which could justify its conduct, the Panel infers that Respondent has chosen Complainantís trademark "BANCO ZARAGOZANO", which has no particular meaning other than the name of the Spanish bank, with the intention to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the pornographic web site, which has no relation with the bank. As held in similar cases, the Panel finds that such conduct clearly does not constitute a "bona fide" offering of goods and services and that it proves that the Respondent has registered and used the domain name in bad faith. (Motorola, Inc. v. NewGate Internet Inc, WIPO Case No. D2000-0079; Six Continents Hotels Inc. v. Seweryn Nowak, WIPO Case No. D2003-0022).
In view of the foregoing and in accordance with the paragraphs 15(a), 14(a) and (b) and 10(d) of the Rules transcribed above, the Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the domain name in bad faith.
Consequently, the Complainant has proved the third element required in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <banco-zaragozano.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Miguel B. O'Farrell
Dated: March 22, 2004.