WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Urenco Limited v. Tim Gordon
Case No. D2006-0821
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Urenco Limited, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom represented by Freshfields, Bruckhaus, Deringer, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Tim Gordon, Crawley, West Sussex, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <urencoplc.com> is registered with TierraNet d/b/a DomainDiscover.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 28, 2006. On June 29, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to TierraNet d/b/a DomainDiscover a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June, 29, 2006, TierraNet d/b/a DomainDiscover 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 July 3, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 23, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 24, 2006.
The Center appointed Antony Gold as the sole panelist in this matter on August 2, 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 was incorporated in 1971. It is an international provider of services and technology to the nuclear generation industry. The Complainant is the owner and registered proprietor of a large number of trade mark registrations for the word mark URENCO in various territories, including the United States, the European Community and China. The majority of these registrations cover uranium, uranium enrichment, flywheel technology and related goods and services.
In the period between March 24 and 26, 2006, several newspaper articles mentioned the possibility of the Complainant offering its shares to the public which would thereby convert it into a public limited company.
On March, 27, 2006, the Respondent registered the Domain Name. The Domain Name resolves to a website which displays sponsored links and contains a search tool. This search tool allows users to access links relating to a strange selection of differing types of goods and services, including uranium related businesses and pornographic material.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Domain Name is virtually identical and confusingly similar to the trade mark URENCO in which the Complainant has registered and unregistered rights.
The Domain name consists of the word “Urenco” followed by the letters “plc” together the suffix “.com” , being the top level domain. The Complainant asserts that the name “Urenco” is the dominant part of the Domain Name and says that internet users will recognize the letters “plc”as indicating a company type, namely a public limited company. In this respect the Complainant refers to section 27(4) of the Companies Act 1985 which expressly recognizes these letters as an alternative designation of a “public limited company”. The Complainant further relies on previous URDP WIPO decisions The Prudential Assurance Company Limited v. Osaro Godwin, WIPO Case No. D2005-0934 and UBS AG v. Updated Business Solutions limited, WIPO Case No. D2002-0958, to support its argument.
The Complainant has obtained extensive trade mark protection for the word mark URENCO in a large number of territories. The majority of these trade mark registrations relate to uranium, uranium enrichment, flywheel technology and related goods and services.
In addition, the Complainant states that details of its trading activities under the name URENCO are available at its websites at “www.urenco.com” and “www.urenco.co.uk”.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
The Complainant states that there is no relationship between the Complainant and the Respondent and that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the name URENCO. The Complainant says that it is not aware of any circumstances which suggest that the Respondent is commonly known as URENCO or URENCOPLC or that it has acquired any trade mark rights in that name. The Complainant also says that the Respondent does not use the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering or goods or services and has not made demonstrable preparations to do so. In particular, the Complainant points out that the search tool available at the website to which the Domain Name resolves, allows users to access links relating to uranium related businesses and pornographic material. The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name is therefore likely to divert customers who intend to visit one of the Complainant’s websites to the website shown at the Domain Name which contains links to other commercial sites and inappropriate material. The Complainant refers to UDRP WIPO decisions in Volvo Trademark Holding AB v. Unasi Inc, WIPO Case No. D2005-0556 and Deutsche Telekom AG v. Pimptel Inc (WIPO Case No. D2005-0928) to support its argument that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain name.
The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant asserts (a) that the Respondent intended to sell the Domain Name to the Complainant for consideration in excess of his documented out-of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name and (b) that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website.
The Complainant has submitted copies of correspondence which it and its agent received from the Respondent and contends that the contents of these communications show that the Respondent intended to sell the Domain Name to the Complainant for consideration in excess of his out-of-pocket costs. The Complainant says that in the event that it failed to agree to purchase the Domain Name from the Respondent, the Respondent threatened to create or encourage the creation of adverse publicity about the Complainant. To support its allegation, the Complainant states that the Respondent rejected an offer of £600 for the Domain Name and relies on extracts from correspondence provided. For example, in his e-mail dated June, 15, 2006, the Respondent stated that “[…] there needs to be a proportionate arrangement considering the time, trouble, scrutiny, bad [sic] publicity and expense i [sic] have actually saved the Company”. In his email dated June, 26, 2006, the Respondent further stated that “I am quite happy to defend my stance […] and provide much unwanted publicity for this little known company […].”
The Complainant points out that the Domain Name was registered shortly after articles appeared in the national press regarding a possible flotation of the Complainant. Such a step would have involved a change of the company form used by the Complainant from a private limited company (“ltd”) to a public limited company (“plc”). In correspondence the Respondent acknowledged that he was aware of this potential change.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names which are confusingly similar to well known trade marks in which third parties have rights. Some of these domain names contain the suffix “plc” where the current trade mark owner is not a public limited company although the companies concerned might become public limited companies in the future. Examples are the domain names <sagagroupplc.co> and <dixonsgroupplc.com>. The Complainant acknowledges that the majority of these domain name registrations have expired although the Respondent currently owns the domain name <bpplc.com>.
The Complainant says that the Respondent has been involved in a previous UDRP WIPO decision regarding the registration of the domain name <wembleystadiumonline.com>, Wembley National Stadium Limited v. Tim Gordon, WIPO Case No. D2000-1218). In that case it is said that, when contacted by Wembley National Stadium Limited, the Respondent had requested £10,000 for the transfer of this domain name. Following the subsequent UDRP complaint, the Panel directed that the domain name be transferred to the complainant.
Finally, the Complainant contends that internet users accessing the website displayed at the Domain Name, may be led to believe that the site is endorsed by or otherwise connected to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not serve a Response to the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires a Complainant to be able to establish the following in order to succeed with its Complaint;
(i) the Domain Name is 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 Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant owns rights in the trade mark URENCO (the “Trade Mark”), as evidenced by the many registrations for the Trade Mark in the Complainant’s name.
The Panel considers that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Trade Mark as it solely consists of the Trade Mark followed by the letters “plc” which are commonly recognized as a generic indication of a particular company type, namely a public limited company. The mark itself is distinctive. Accordingly, notwithstanding the addition of the letters “PLC” after URENCO, the Panel accepts that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a name in which the Complainant has rights (it being usual to ignore the .com suffix for these purposes).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In the absence of any response from the Respondent, and the Complainant having made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interest, there are no known circumstances which might suggest that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. All the evidence adduced by the Complainant points the other way. The Complainant states that there is no relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant and that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the Trade Mark. There is no evidence which might tend to suggest that the Respondent is commonly known as Urenco or Urencoplc or that it has acquired any trade mark rights in that name. The Panel further accepts that the current use of the Domain Name does not amount to a bona fide offering or goods or services and there is no evidence which suggests that the Respondent is preparing to use the Domain Name in that way.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant provided the Panel with copies of correspondence between the Respondent and the Complainant and its agent. This correspondence clearly demonstrates that the Respondent registered and uses the Domain Name primarily in order to sell it to the Complainant for consideration in excess of his documented out-of pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name. In addition, the Respondent threatened to create or encourage the creation of bad publicity in the event that the Complainant did not purchase the Domain Name for a price which the Respondent considered adequate. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Respondent acted in bad faith in both its registration and use of the Domain Name. The finding of bad faith is unaffected by the fact that contact between the parties was initiated by the Complainant’s agent rather than the Respondent.
The Complainant has put forward further facts and circumstances in support of its contention that the Domain Name was registered and is used in bad faith but in the light of the findings made above, there is no need to discuss these issues further.
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, <urencoplc.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: August 14, 2006