WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Asian Football Confederation v. PARSWEB, c/o Nik Rayaneh
Case No. D2006-0785
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Asian Football Confederation, Kuala Lumpur, of Malaysia, represented by KASS International Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia.
The Respondent is PARSWEB, Nik Rayaneh, Tehran, of Islamic Republic of Iran, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <asiancup2007.com> is registered with OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 23, 2006. On June 23, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June 27, 2006, OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on July 5, 2006. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment 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 July 13, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 2, 2006. The Response was filed with the Center on August 1, 2006.
The Center appointed Mr. Michael Bernasconi as the sole panelist in this matter on September 5, 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 Complainant is one of the six continental confederations recognized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”), the world governing body of football. The Complainant was formed and recognized by FIFA in 1954. The Complainant organizes several football competitions, including football competitions for clubs like the “AFC Champions League” and competitions for national teams like, every four years, the “AFC Asian Cup”. The first “AFC Asian Cup” was held in Hong Kong, SAR of China in 1956.
The Complainant is the registered owner of a number of trademarks including the trademark “AFC ASIAN CUP, [Chinese Characters], China 2004 & Device” and of a number of websites including the site “www.afcasiancup.com” and the site “www.the-afc.com”. Further, the Complainant has applied for the registration of several other trademarks including “ASIAN CUP 2007 & Device” and “ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION (AFC) & Device”.
The Respondent registered the disputed Domain Name on April 30, 2004. Under the Domain Name currently a basically empty site apparently editable on an open source basis is offered. The site is prominently headed “Asian Cup 2007” and bears a football logo. Displayed in the upper left hand corner are the words “The website of the Asian Cup 2007”. It would appear that at some point after the filing of the Complaint, the following words were added, “This is not the official website of the AFC”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed Domain Name is identical and confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks. Further, Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that Respondent registered the Domain Name for the sole reason of selling it to the Complainant, with the intent of profiting from the goodwill, the reputation and the well-know name of the football event organized by the Complainant since many decades. Accordingly, Respondent is committing a domain name grabbing, using the Domain Name in bad faith and with the only purpose of selling it.
Further, the use of the Domain Name does violate the rights resulting from Complainant’s long lasting use of the words “Asian Cup”, of the respective logos, signs and other goods and of the websites relating to the past editions of the football events organized and staged by the Complainant.
Finally, Complainant asserts to have been commonly associated with the Domain Name.
The Respondent disputes having registered the Domain Name for the mere purposes of selling it to the Complainant. Further, Respondent submits that the Domain Name was not registered nor used in bad faith. Finally, Respondent asserts that the Domain Name is not identical to Complainant’s registered trademarks.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
A. The domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
B. the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
C. the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
It is undisputed that the Complainant is the owner of registered trademarks containing the words “Asian Cup”. In particular, the mark AFC ASIAN CUP. Also, it is undisputed that Complainant has applied for the registration of trademarks containing the words “Asian Cup 2007”. Finally, Complainant has been able to prove that it organizes the football event “Asian Cup”, that it has done so for many decades, and that by doing this it uses the words “Asian Cup” not only as part of its trademarks but as a distinctive identifier in connection with the operation of websites connected to the mentioned football event, as well as in connection with a variety of goods and services. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has succeeded in demonstrating unregistered rights in the mark ASIAN CUP for the purpose of the first element of the Policy.
The Panel also finds that Respondent’s Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered AFC ASIAN CUP trademark, and to the unregistered ASIAN CUP mark in which the Complainant has succeeded in demonstrating rights. In particular, there is a clear risk of confusion between the Domain Name and the marks and logos used by the Complainant on its websites and on a range of goods and services offered for decades by the Complainant in connection with the football competition organized by it, the football Asian Cup.
Therefore, in the view of the Panel, the disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademarks of the Complainant. The Complainant has therefore succeeded in proving the first criterion, as per paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the Domain Name.
The Policy paragraph 4(c) defines the following circumstances which, if proved, establish the Respondent’s right or legitimate interest to a disputed domain name: If the Respondent (i) used the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services; (ii) has been commonly known by the domain name; or (iii) is making a legitimate noncommercial use of the Domain Name.
It remains undisputed that the Respondent does not use and has not made 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. Actually, no goods and services are offered under the disputed Domain Name. Rather, at the time of the filing of Complainant’s application, the only content offered under the Domain Name was the indication that the Domain Name was on sale. This content appears to have been subsequently removed, presumably by the Respondent, and replaced with the content described above under Factual Background.
There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed Domain Name or has been authorized by the Complainant to operate a website regarding the football event organized by the Complainant.
The Respondent’s conduct in all likelihood serves the purpose of seeking to generate revenues from the sale of Domain Name. Indeed, the Respondent has not at any time used or made any demonstrable preparation to use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
Under these circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed Domain Name. The second requirement of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent disputes having registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. However, Respondent does not provide any evidence for registration and use in good faith. Rather, considering the content offered by Respondent under the Domain Name (“This Domain is For Sale”), the Panel believes that the primary and indeed only plausible purpose for registration of the Domain Name by the Respondent in the circumstances was to sell it for a profitable price to the Complainant or a third party.
The Panel also notes that the Respondent was clearly aware of the existence of a football event called the “Asian Cup” at the time of registration of the domain name <asiancup2007.com>, and was in all probability aware or at least anticipating the organization of such an event in 2007. In such circumstances, the Respondent must also have anticipated that a logical consequence of registering the disputed domain name would be to prevent the organizer of that event in 2007 from registering a corresponding domain name, and that this would have the probable effect of increasing the value of the domain name for sale. The Respondent’s assertion that it was unaware that the Complainant was the main organizer for the event strikes the Panel as disingenuous and unconvincing in the circumstances as an indication of good faith.
The material included on the website at the disputed Domain Name prior to this proceeding (as described above in Factual Background) appears to the Panel to be consistent with an attempt by the Respondent to cause confusion between the disputed Domain Name and the trademark and logos of the Complainant as the organizer of the Asian Cup in 2007, presumably in an attempt to increase the hit rate on the disputed Domain Name, and thereby increase its potential value. That the Respondent attempted to distinguish the website from the Complainant and its trademarks by the inclusion of a small disclaimer only after the filing of the Complaint is not compelling as an indication of good faith.
The evidence before the Panel is consistent with a conclusion that the Respondent is in all probability intentionally attempting to attract for profit Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the “Asian Cup” football event organized by the Complainant under its various marks and logos; free-riding in effect on the fame of the event and the Complainant’s marks and logos.
Under these circumstances, and taking into consideration the fact that the Respondent has not provided any evidence of any good faith use by the Respondent of the Domain Name, the Panel considers on balance that the Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith. Thus, the Panel finds the third requirement of Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is satisfied.
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 dame <asiancup2007.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: October 1, 2006