WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Korn/Ferry International v. George Kornn
Case No. D2008-0632
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Korn/Ferry International, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, represented by Morrison & Foerster, LLP, United States of America.
The Respondent is George Kornn, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <kornferryintl.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 23, 2008. On April 23, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name(s) at issue. On April 23, 2008, Network Solutions, LLC 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 April 29, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 19, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 21, 2008.
The Center appointed Sir Ian Barker as the sole panelist in this matter on May 26, 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 Complainant is a global corporation, the stocks of which are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It has used the trademark KORN/FERRY in connection with executive placement services since 1970.
It owns registered trademarks in many countries throughout the world, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, where the Respondent is domiciled. Respondent’s registered trademarks are for KORN/FERRY and KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL. These trademarks were granted before the Respondent registered the disputed domain name on June 24, 2005. The Complainant presented evidence to establish its worldwide business and reputation in the field of executive placement.
The Complainant owns the domain name <kornferry.com>, which it has used since 1995 to offer services and information relating to executive placement under the KORN/FERRY mark. It also owns the domain name <korn/ferryinternational.com>, which directs enquirers to the “www.kornferry.com” site.
The disputed domain name resolves to an “under-construction” page which displays random “pay-per-click” links. The Complainant has neither authorised nor licensed the Respondent to use any of its trademarks. Nor is the Respondent a distributor of the Complainant’s services.
The Complainant’s attempts to contact the Respondent by letter at the physical and email addresses shown in the Whois information were unsuccessful. The Registrar refused to provide the Complainant with additional contact information for the Respondent.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s numerous registered trademarks, particularly the trademark KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant gave him none, nor is there any evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name. By using a “click-through” service, the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor is he making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Respondent falsely named himself as “George Kornn of Korn/Ferry International” in the Whois for the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has never had any connection with the Complainant. The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith and continues to use it in bad faith, either for the purpose of selling it or in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name. He has registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of the competitor.
The Respondent’s Whois information provides further evidence of bad faith registration and use. The Complainant used the name George Kornn and falsely has stated an affiliation with the Complainant. After the Registrar was notified and the Registrar forwarded a cease and desist letter to the Respondent, he maintained the false contact information in the Whois records. This shows continuing bad faith.
Likewise, the Respondent’s registration and maintenance of the disputed domain name which incorporates and is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark demonstrates bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to:
“decide a Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
The burden of the Complainant, under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, is to show:
(i) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name is clearly confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL. The letters “intl” in the disputed domain name are an obvious abbreviation for “international”. Consequently, the Complainant has satisfied Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant gave the Respondent no rights to reflect its trademark in a domain name . The onus is on the Respondent to show that he comes within one or other of the categories in Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. By not filing a Response, the Respondent has failed to do so.
The Complainant has satisfied Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
There are clear indications of bad faith registration and use from the following facts:
(a) The Respondent’s assertion in his Whois information of a connection with Complainant. See Action Instruments Inc. v. Technology Associates, WIPO Case No. D2003-0024) which held that the use of false contact information in the respondent’s registration provided evidence of bad faith registration and maintenance of this information constituted bad faith use. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name falsely stating an affiliation with the Complainant. Even after the Registrar forwarded Complainant’s cease and desist letter Respondent maintained the false contact information.
(b) Respondent’s registration and maintenance of the disputed domain name to establish pay-per-click site is evidence of bad faith registration and continuing use. See Lathan & Watkins LLP v. Neovert, WIPO Case No. D2007-1205 and Educational Testing Services (ETS) v. International Names Ltd, WIPO Case No. D2007-0449 where it was said “Panels have consistently recognised that the registration of domain names which are confusingly similar to the complainant’s trademarks which are then used to operate pay-per-click sites, will be considered to be evidence of bad faith.”
(c) Complainant’s reputation is worldwide and was so at the date of registration of the disputed domain name. It has registered trademarks in the United Kingdom where Respondent lives. Accordingly, it is not difficult for the Panel to infer that, at the date of registration, Respondent knew of Complainant’s mark and its fame.
Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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, <kornferryintl.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Hon. Sir Ian Barker, QC
Dated: June 9, 2008