WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Huppe GmbH & Co. KG v. Woong Kang
Case No. D2007-1166
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Huppe GmbH & Co. KG, Bad Zwischennahn, Germany, represented by De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek N.V., The Netherlands.
The Respondent is Woong Kang, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <huppe.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 August 6, 2007 initially against the previous registrant Sposa. On August 10, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNIC.com, the concerned registrar of the domain name at issue at the time of fling of the Complaint, a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. After the Center’s several reminders, on August 21, 2007, OnlineNIC.com informed the Center by email that the domain name at issue was no longer registered with it but with Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com. On August 22, 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 and, on the same day, 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. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amended Complaint (translated into Korean) on August 27, 2007. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 September 11, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 1, 2007. In response to a request from the Respondent, which was agreed to by the Complainant, the Center granted an extension for the Response until October 8, 2007. The Respondent did not submit a formal Response, although an email communication was received by the Center from the Respondent on October 8, 2007.
The Center appointed Ik-Hyun Seo as the sole panelist in this matter on October 20, 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 is primarily in the business of manufacturing the selling shower and bath products, with a history that begins in 1889 when it began supplying upholsterers and saddlers. The Complainant has a number of trademark registrations in the United States as well as an International Registration for HUPPE and/or HUPPE in logo form.
The Respondent appears to be an individual and the disputed domain name was registered on April 19, 2001.
According to the publicly accessible WhoIs data on August 8, 2007, the registrant of the disputed domain name was Sposa and the concerned Registrar was OnlineNIC.com. According to the registrar verification response received from OnlineNIC.com. on August 21, 2007, the concerned Registrar is identified as Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com. According to the publicly accessible WhoIs data on August 21, 2007, the registrant of the disputed domain name is listed as Woong Kang and the Registrar as Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com. Also, according to the registrar verification response received from Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com, the registrant of the disputed domain name is Woong Kang and the Registrar is Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com.
The Complaint was filed with the Center on August 6, 2007. Therefore it would appear that, whatever the circumstances of the change in registrant identity may have been, it would seem that such change is likely to have occurred as a reaction to or at least with knowledge of the present proceedings.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to marks in which the Complainant has rights. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that it holds trademark registrations for HUPPE in text and stylized forms, and the disputed domain name entirely incorporates the HUPPE trademark.
The Complainant also contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. More specifically, the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in any bona fide and legitimate manner, and the Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is being used in connection with a domain name parking service, whereby the Respondent is seeking to improperly profit from the domain name. Further, the links provided in the content associated with the disputed domain name relate to the Complainant’s business and guide visitors to competitor sites.
The Respondent did not submit any formal reply to the Complainant’s contentions. However, the Respondent sent an email to the Center on October 8, 2007.
In its email, the Respondent contends that the Respondent requests a further extension to file a Response because this administrative proceeding was commenced shortly after the disputed domain name has been transferred from the previous registrant to the Respondent and, as a result, the domain name remains as registrar locked and prevents him from executing his ownership or business plans regarding the disputed domain name (i.e., building a website).
6. Discussion and Findings
Preliminary Issue: Language of the Proceedings
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of proceedings shall be the language of the registration agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise. The default language of the proceedings is Korean. After receiving notice from the Center, the Complainant prepared the Complaint in Korean and timely submitted its amended complaint. Notwithstanding the expense and inconvenience incurred by the Complainant, the Respondent failed to file a formal Response and has effectively chosen not to participate in these proceedings.
In view of the overall circumstances of this case and in the interest of fairness to both parties, the Panel hereby determines that, under Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, it would be more appropriate to render the decision in English in this case.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has submitted evidence of owning trademark registrations for HUPPE and/or HUPPE in stylized form in the United States of America as well as an International Registration. The Complainant’s original company began business in 1889 and its International Registration was granted in 1993, both long before the disputed domain name was first registered. The disputed domain name wholly incorporates that HUPPE trademark, so there can be little question that it is identical to the trademarks asserted by the Complainant.
For the reasons given above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established this element and concludes that the subject domain name is identical to the Complainant’s registered trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made the required allegations that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name, and the Respondent has not presented any evidence or compelling argument by way of a rebuttal or an explanation on this point. Under these circumstances, the Panel finds it reasonable to conclude that the Complainant has sufficiently established this element.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established this element, and concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the subject domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Under the facts of this case, the Panel finds that there is sufficient evidence of bad faith. The disputed domain name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s trademark, and there appears to be no reasonable basis for the Respondent to have independently and innocently chosen this domain name, which is identical to the Complainant’s mark. “Huppe” has no apparent meaning in English or in Korean. Further, the disputed domain name was used in connection with a domain name parking service for the apparent purposes of seeking profits from visitor hits. Likely knowledge of the Complainant’s mark and its business is also apparent from the content that was provided. The contents displayed at the disputed domain name relate to information on exactly the same products offered by the Complainant, and also provide links to the Complainant’s competitors. The Panel notes that the contents previously displayed have now been removed. However, the removal or any modification of the contents displayed at the disputed domain name after the proceedings have commenced should not be interpreted or construed in favor of the Respondent. The Respondent’s acts before the dispute arose are not absolved by taking self-serving measures after receiving notice of the dispute.
In view of the above, and the lack of a denial of bad faith by the Respondent, the Panel finds that the final element has been established.
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 <huppe.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: November 27, 2007