WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
MasterCard International Incorporated v. Unitedeurope Consulting
Case No. D2007-0830
1. The Parties
The Complainant is MasterCard International Incorporated of Purchase, New York, United States of America, represented by Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus, United States of America.
The Respondent is Unitedeurope Consulting of Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <master-card.com> is registered with Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 6, 2007. On June 8, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June 11, 2007, Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com 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 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 12, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 1, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 7, 2007.
The Center appointed Professor Ilhyung Lee as the sole panelist in this matter on August 13, 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.
The Panel determines that the language of the proceeding will be English, as discussed herein.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is known worldwide for its “payment card business,” which it has conducted under the name and mark, MASTERCARD. It received U.S. registrations for the marks “MASTERCARD,” on December 22, 1998, and “MasterCard,” on August 28, 1984. The Complainant asserts that it has also registered its MASTERCARD mark in “practically every nation in the world,” including the Republic of Korea, where the Respondent is located, Japan, and even North Korea. (Compl. at 5 & n.1.) In addition, the Complainant registered, among others, the domain names: <mastercard.com> (on July 27, 1994); <mastercard.net> (on September 18, 1997); and <mastercard.org> (on November 2, 1997).
The Respondent registered the dispute domain name <master-card.com> on June 29, 2001.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that: the Respondent’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar with marks in which the Complainant has rights; the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
Under paragraphs 5(e), 14(a), 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel may decide the dispute based on the Complaint, and draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Initially, the Panel must determine the language of the proceeding. Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The same provision of the Rules, however, also states that the determination of the language of the proceeding is “subject to the authority of the Panel . . ., having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.”
Here, Korean is the language of the governing Registration Agreement. The Complainant, however, requested that English be the language of the proceeding, to which the Respondent communicated an objection. Taking into account all arguments made, the Center issued a notice, in Korean and in English, stating that it would accept (i) the Complaint filed in English, and (ii) a Response in either English or Korean. In all events, the Respondent failed to submit a Response in either language, and declined to participate in the proceeding. In consideration of all circumstances – principally, the Complainant’s request and the Respondent’s default – the Panel determines that English is the language of the proceeding.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name <master-card.com> is confusingly similar with the MASTERCARD mark in which the Complainant has rights. The insertion of a mere hyphen between “master” and “card” does little to disturb this conclusion. The Complainant has satisfied the first element.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Policy, paragraph 4(c), provides that the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the domain name may be demonstrated by evidence of: (i) the Respondent’s use of the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or (ii) the Respondent being commonly known by the domain name; or (iii) the Respondent making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. There is no evidence in the record to support any of these possibilities here. Paragraph 4(c) is not an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, the Panel is not able to ascertain any circumstances that would demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in <master-card.com>. Accordingly, based on the evidence, the Panel determines that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that bad faith in the registration and use of a domain name is shown when the Respondent, by using the domain name, has “intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent’s] website. . ., by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement” of the Respondent’s website or of products on the website.
Here, the Respondent has used a domain name that is virtually identical to the Complainant’s widely recognized mark, for a “searchable portal website” that has a link to “Master Card,” as well as to, among others, “Apply for a Credit Card,” “Credit Card Application,” “Credit Check,” and “Online Payment,” the very services that the Complainant provides. This establishes bad faith under paragraph 4(b). As in Nokia Corp. v. Nokia Ringtones & Logos Hotline, WIPO Case No. D2001-1101, by registering and using the dispute domain name, the Respondent here “has created the (incorrect) impression of association with the [Complainant] . . . [and] intentionally used the goodwill of Complainant’s mark to create traffic to his website.” Given the prominently displayed links on the Respondent’s website, the fact that the website and the internal links also contain information about the Complainant’s competitors does not defeat the overall likelihood of confusion.
The Complainant has established bad faith in registration and use of the domain name.
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 <master-card.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 27, 2007