WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited v. Unasi Inc.
Case No. D2005-1218
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited, Great Eastern Centre, Singapore, represented by Rajah & Tann, Singapore.
The Respondent is Unasi Inc., Panama.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <greateasternlife.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Capitoldomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 25, 2005. On November 25, 2005, the Center transmitted by email to Capitoldomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On December 1, 2005, Capitoldomains, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. 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 December 13, 2005. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 2, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 3, 2006.
The Center appointed Natasha Lisman as the sole panelist in this matter on January 11, 2006. 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
The evidence1 submitted by the Complainant, which, in the absence of any response by the Respondent, is undisputed, shows that the Complainant is part of the largest insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia, with a subsidiary in Indonesia and offices in Brunei, China and Vietnam. The Complainant has been operating under the same name, “The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited,” since 1908. Between 1996 and 1997, the Complainant registered the mark “Great Eastern Life” in Singapore, Malaysia, and the European Union. The Complainant uses the mark in extensive advertising of its insurance products and services.
As noted, the Respondent failed to submit any response to the Complaint or the Center’s notifications. Therefore, facts concerning the Respondent, its rights and interests, if any, in relation to the disputed domain name, and the purpose for which it registered and used the domain name are available only from the Complaint and the evidentiary Annexes thereto, the domain name registrar, and the findings made in prior UDRP proceedings brought by other parties against the same Respondent, fifteen of which are appended to the Complaint.
The record shows that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with Capitoldomains, LLC on October 10, 2005. In its registration, the Respondent provided no name of a natural person as administrative or technical contact. The disputed domain name came to the Complainant’s attention at the end of October, 2005. The Complainant had never authorized or licensed any entity bearing the Respondent’s name to use the mark “Great Eastern Life.” When visited by the Complainant, the website under the disputed domain name contained no information about its owner’s business and provided only links to numerous third-party websites, primarily relating to various types of life insurance products, as well as pop-up advertisements.
On November 5, 2005, the Complainant’s solicitors followed up with a cease and desist letter to the Respondent, by post and e-mail, using the postal and e-mail addresses provided in the Respondent’s registration. As of the time of the Complaint, the Complainant had received no response to its cease and desist letter.
A registrant of numerous domain names going by the same entity name as the Respondent, Unasis, Inc., and giving the same Panama address, has been found in at least fifteen UDRP proceedings to have engaged in conduct similar to that alleged in the present case: registering domain names identical or confusingly similar to the mark or marks of a complainant to steer Internet users to a website whose sole content was links to other websites relating to products or services in the same industry.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, in which it has established presumptive rights through registration. The Complainant further contends that its evidence is sufficient to make out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, thereby shifting the burden of proof as to this element of a UDRP claim to the Respondent, and that the Respondent, by virtue of its failure to respond to the Complaint, has not discharged. Finally, the Complainant submits that a finding that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith is warranted by the pattern of conduct that emerges from numerous UDRP decisions ordering the transfer of dozens of domain names registered by the Respondent, the Respondent’s awareness, or at least constructive knowledge, of the Complainant and its trademark, the links and advertisements that form the sole content of the Respondent’s website, and the inference of the Respondent’s receipt of, or desire to receive, commissions from the “click-through” internet traffic generated by such links and advertisements.
By failing to submit a Response, the Respondent has neither contested the Complainant’s contentions nor made any of its own.
6. Discussion and Findings
Pursuant to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant has the burden of establishing the existence of the following three elements:
(i) The disputed domain names are 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 disputed domain names; and
(iii) The disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
That the disputed domain name, <greateasternlife.com>, is, on its face, identical to the mark GREAT EASTERN LIFE requires no discussion. The Complainant has affirmatively established its rights in this mark through evidence of its use in extensive advertising and registration in Singapore, Malaysia, and the European Union.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
As in any case in which a respondent fails to submit any response to a complaint, the determination of the existence of the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name is rendered difficult. The Complainant is only in the position to show that it has never authorized any entity named Unasi Inc. to use its trademark and that the content of the Respondent’s website discloses no legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
However, because it is the Respondent who has exclusive possession of concrete evidence of its rights or interest in its domain names, the absence of such evidence in the record is due to the Respondent’s election to remain silent in the face of the Complainant’s allegations both in its cease and desist letter and the Complaint in the present proceeding. By operation of a common sense evidentiary principle,2 the Panel finds that the Respondent’s failure to counter the allegations of the cease and desist letter amounts to adoptive admission of the allegations. Furthermore, Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy and Paragraph 5 of the Rules emphasize to respondents the importance of demonstrating their rights and interests in a disputed domain name and provide helpful guidance as to several alternative ways in which the requisite demonstration can be made. Under these circumstances, it is only fair to shift the burden to the Respondent, and/or draw a negative inference from its failure affirmatively to contest the Complainant’s allegations. See, e.g., Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455; Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110; Sony Kabushiki Kaisha v. sony.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-1074; The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064; Berlitz Investment Corp. v. Stefan Tinculescu, WIPO Case No. D2003-0465.
On these grounds, the Panel concludes that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in any of the disputed domain names and deems paragraph 4(a)(ii) to have been satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires that the Complainant establish that Respondent both registered and is using the disputed domain names in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy offers a non-exclusive set of different circumstances, any one of which would suffice to prove bad faith registration and use.
In the present case, the content of the website reached through the disputed domain name shows that its sole purpose was to steer internet traffic to other websites offering insurance products and services similar to those of the Complainant. The Panel agrees with the Complainant that it is fair to infer that the Respondent’s motive for setting up such a website was to earn commissions. Coupled with the Respondent’s patently evasive registration of the disputed domain name without disclosing the identity of any natural person as a contact, its naked copying of the Complainant’s registered trademark, failure to respond to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter or participate in this proceeding, and the pattern of cybersquatting conduct found in other UDRP decisions, the evidence and fair inferences drawn therefrom fully support the conclusion that the Respondent registered and was using the disputed domain in bad faith.
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 <greateasternlife.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: January 26, 2006
1 The Panel distinguishes between the evidence submitted by the Complainant and its conclusory allegations, such as the allegations about its goodwill and reputation in the general public and the business community, or surmises, such as the supposition that some of the products and services featured on the websites linked to the Respondent’s involve the Complainant’s competitors. For purposes of this decision, unsupported or speculative assertions of fact are not taken into consideration.
2 “Silence, when the assertion of another person would naturally call for a dissent if it were untrue, may be equivalent to an assent to the assertions.” 2 Wigmore, Evidence § 292 (Chadburn rev. 1979), p. 229.