WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Finlandia Vodka Worldwide Ltd. v. Finn Picard
Case No. D2008-0074
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Finlandia Vodka Worldwide Ltd., Helsinki, Finland, represented by Seyfarth Shaw, United States of America.
The Respondent is Finn Picard, Drammen, Armed Forces Other Areas, Norway.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <vodka-finlandia.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 17, 2008. On January 18, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On January 22, 2008, GoDaddy.com, 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 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 January 24, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 13, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 14, 2008.
The Center appointed Gunnar Karnell as the sole panelist in this matter on February 21, 2008. 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 domain name <vodka-finlandia.com> was registered by the Respondent on February 16, 2007.
The Complainant has requested that the registration of the domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Complainant has referred to the following trademark registrations among 64 owned by it for the FINLANDIA mark for vodka, all registrations having been made before the registration of the domain name <vodka-finlandia.com>:
FINLANDIA three reindeer (Denmark 1591/1991);
Finlandia Vodka Global (Finland 219369);
FINLANDIA (Finland 76672);
FINLANDIA (Norway 120466);
FINLANDIA (Sweden 177212);
FINLANDIA (CTM 004373783);
FINLANDIA (US 2938831);
FINLANDIA VODKA WORLDWIDE (US 2710426);
FINLANDIA (and design) (US 1747344);
FINLANDIA (and design) (US 1143620);
FINLANDIA (US 1115781);
FINLANDIA VODKA OF FINLAND (and design) (US 1115778). .
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that its use and registration of the FINLANDIA trademark in a great number of countries, including that of the Respondent (Norway) establishes the Complainant’s rights in the trademark.
(1) The trademark is confusingly similar to the domain name within the meaning of the Policy. Differences, such as the added generic term “vodka” and the TLD “.com”, are without trademark significance, and must be disregarded in assessing identity and confusing similarity.
(2) The Complainant has not licensed or authorized the Respondent to use the FINLANDIA trademark, used and registered long before the domain name registration to an extent that makes it impossible for the Respondent to show that before any notice to it of this dispute it engaged in a use of the domain name or any related activity that would answer to the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 4(c). of the Policy. The lack of rights or legitimate interests is particularly evidenced by the fact that the Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name diverts Internet users to various third-party websites, including such selling competitive vodka.
(3) The Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name to divert users seeking the Complainant to websites selling various goods and services, including vodka sold by competitors of the Complainant, establishes bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b). of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
It is well established practice under the Policy that differences from a trademark only constituted by the TLD “com.” and a hyphen to a connected word such as, here, the generic word “vodka”, do not cause dissimilarity within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
Hence, the domain name <vodka-finlandia.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark FINLANDIA.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The case file does not contain any indication of any right or legitimate interest of the Respondent regarding the disputed domain name in line with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise. In view of the use of the disputed domain name, as explained below under Bad Faith, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name .
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The registration and use by the Respondent of the disputed domain name demonstrate bad faith. The Respondent appears to have been intentionally diverting Internet users, wanting to be connected to the Complainant, to unrelated websites exposing among other matter vodka sold by competitors to the Complainant. The Respondent must be aware of the likelihood of confusion in the market created by its registration and by its use of the domain name on its website.
The third element of the Policy 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 <vodka-finlandia.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: March 6, 2008