WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Sonofon A/S v. Vladimir Aleksic
Case No. D2007-0668
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Sonofon A/S, Aalborg, Denmark.
The Respondent is Vladimir Aleksic, Petrovac, Serbia.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <sonofon.mobi> is registered with Go Australia Domains, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 3, 2007. On May 7, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Go Australia Domains, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On May 7, 2007, Go Australia Domains, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. 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 Supplement 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 May 22, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 11, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 15, 2007.
The Center appointed Christos A. Theodoulou as the sole panelist in this matter on June 21, 2007. 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, Sonofon A/S, is a large Danish mobile telephone operator, founded in 1991. It is a subsidiary of the Nordic mobile telephone company Telenor and 100% owner of its own subsidiary, Cybercity A/S.
According to the non-contested allegations of and to the evidence provided by the Complainant, the word “Sonofon” is protected as a trademark in Denmark. The examples provided by the Complainant, consist of trademark registrations nos. VR 08.084 1992, VR 2002 04216 and VR 2006 01217, the first one having been registered back in 1992 and duly renewed in 2002 (it appears to be owned by the formerly existing company, Dansk MobilTelefon I/S). There is no other information in the record, concerning, for instance, trademark registrations for SONOFON in other countries of the world.
The Panel is unaware of any information with regard to the Respondent.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademarks, that the Respondent has no legitimate interests or rights in the disputed domain name, and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
4. Discussion and Findings
Before engaging itself into the usual threefold discussion of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel will briefly address the procedural issue related to the default of the Respondent. The implications of a default in this case are obvious: since the Complainant has the burden of proof, according to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy (“In the administrative proceeding, the Complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present”), the Panel may not just grant the Complainant’s request automatically, but it has to examine instead the evidence presented to determine whether or not the Complainant has proved its case, as required by the Policy [see FNAC v. Gauthier Raymond, WIPO Case No. D2004-0881; DFDS A/S v. NOLDC INC, WIPO Case No. D2006-1070].
The Panel shall now proceed to the analysis of the evidence in this case, based on the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
A. The contested domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks, in which the Complainant has rights [paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy].
The Complainant has presented sufficient evidence that it owns the rights to the trademark SONOFON, even though evidence of this has been brought only in relation to Denmark. The worldwide use of the mark over the Internet, also through the website <sonofon.dk> (which belongs to the Complainant’s subsidiary company, Cybercity A/S), reinforces this ownership. It is to be noted that the Respondent has registered a domain name, which is identical to the trademark of the Complainant, disregarding in accordance with well-established practice the gTLD “.mobi”.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has discharged its burden of proof on this point and holds that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trademark.
B. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name [paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy].
Under Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy any of the following circumstances, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of the evidence presented, shall demonstrate a registrant’s right to and legitimate interest in a domain name:
I. Demonstrable preparations to use the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to the dispute: in this case, the Respondent is not using the domain name for offering any goods or services, and with the phrase “If you are interested in this .mobi domain name write to email@example.com”, he shows in practice that he had actually acquired the disputed domain name with the clear purpose of selling it. It is worth noting that the Complainant states that it has no relations with the Respondent and has never authorized him to use the disputed domain name or any other domain name.
II. An indication that the registrant has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if it has acquired no trademark rights: there is no such indication from the record.
III. Legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark at issue: there is no such indication from the record.
As a conclusion on this point, the Panel holds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. The Respondent registered and used the contested domain name in bad faith [paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy].
The Complainant’s argumentation aims to establish any of the four circumstances mentioned in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, which would be enough to prove the Respondent’s bad faith, since those will separately prove bad faith registration and use.
In reviewing the present case the Panel has noted the following information:
- From the exchange of correspondence (Annex 7 of the Complaint), it becomes obvious to the Panel that the Respondent knew of the existence and activity of the Complainant, probably also through the presence of the parent company of the Complainant, Telenor, in the Respondent’s resident country, Serbia.
- The Respondent offered to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant. The Panel finds irrelevant the fact that in his correspondence with the Complainant (Annex 7 of the Complaint), the Respondent only asked for 1000 Euros and one mobile phone for such transfer, a price which could be considered by some as being low. To the Panel’s eyes, what is important and sufficient – and this is particularly evident from the phrase “If you are interested in this .mobi domain name write to firstname.lastname@example.org”, appearing on the disputed site – is the evident intention of the Respondent to acquire the disputed domain name with the mere purpose to sell it.
- The bad faith of the Respondent may also be gathered through a simple, logical process, in the sense that it would, indeed, be highly unlikely that the Respondent could come up randomly and unintentionally with an invented word, such as “Sonofon”, which appears in no dictionary and has absolutely no meaning, and register it as his own domain name.
As a consequence to the above, the Panel holds that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Complainant has successfully proved that the contested domain name is identical or confusingly similar to several trademarks in which it has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name, and that the Respondent registered and used the contested domain name 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 at issue, <sonofon.mobi>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Christos A. Theodoulou
Dated: July 5, 2007