WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Jimmy Alison v. Finland Property Services (Pty) Ltd.
Case No. D2008-1141
1. The Parties
Complainant is Jimmy Alison, East-Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Respondent is Finland Property Services (Pty) Ltd, Bloubergstrand South Africa.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name at issue, <didyouknow.com>, is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 25, 2008. On July 29, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On the same date, Network Solutions, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on August 6, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 26, 2008. Respondent did not submit any Response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 27, 2008.
The Center appointed M. Scott Donahey as the sole panelist in this matter on September 3, 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
Complainant is the creator of a radio program entitled, “Did you know?” that came into existence in 1982 and is broadcast on various radio stations. On July 18, 1997, Complainant registered the domain name <didyouknow.com>. Complaint, Annex B. Radio and television presenters and producers and newspaper and magazine editors registered on the web site to which the domain name at issue resolved to receive material designed by Complainant for electronic and print media formats. By the year 2000, “Did you know?” became the second largest radio syndication in the world.
On March 24, 2000, and in meetings thereafter, two individuals met with Complainant in South Africa and offered to take the business surrounding the “Did you know?” radio show and web site public on the New York Stock Exchange in return for part ownership of the business. The two individuals offered to establish a trust to hold 50% of a Company named Hanesville International BVI and to establish a United States of America (“United States”) company for the purpose of an initial public offering in the United States, of which Complainant would hold 50% of the shares. Complainant was told that he would receive USD 3 million upon completion of the initial public offering and would receive 12.5% of the listed shares. These terms were memorialized in a Shareholders Agreement purportedly dated March 31, 2000, relating to Hanesville International Ltd. BVI which was allegedly signed by Complainant and one of the two individuals with whom he dealt. Complaint, Annex D. On that date Complainant signed a “Letter of Wishes” of the trust and subsequently signed over his interest in the domain name <didyouknow.com>. On April 6, 2000, Complainant received a copy of a Declaration of Trust. However Complainant did not receive any remuneration, and a credit card which he had been given to purchase necessary software and equipment was not usable. Complainant later discovered that the trust was never established and the United States company was never established. In January 2001, the individuals with whom Complainant had dealt changed the login and password on the domain administration so that Complainant no longer had control of the domain name at issue. When Complainant contacted the registrar, he was told that there was nothing that the registrar could do. Nevertheless, Complainant continued to pay for the hosting of the web site in the hope that a satisfactory solution could be reached.
On February 2, 2002, Complainant filed an action for fraud and theft in the courts of South Africa. The case was never heard, allegedly because of the two individuals’ connection with a senior politician.
The domain name at issue is currently not being used to resolve to a web site.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that he has been defrauded and that the domain name was effectively stolen from him by two individuals.
Respondent did not file a Response or otherwise reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Clearly Complainant is aggrieved and, if his allegations are correct, rightfully so. However the Policy is not designed to deal with allegations of fraud and theft. It is a limited Policy, dealing with the bad faith registration and use of domain names to profit from the goodwill established by a trademark owner’s rights in a mark. There is generally no hearing available, no opportunity to examine witnesses, no opportunity to conduct cross-examination, and no ability in the Panel to effectively evaluate credibility. While the Panel has little doubt that Complainant has been wronged, this is simply not an adequate forum to address those wrongs.
Complainant filed a law suit in South Africa, and that would seem to be an appropriate forum. Complainant may wish to consult competent counsel to determine if other forums might be available to him to seek redress of his grievances. Unfortunately, this forum is not designed to address questions of breach of contract, fraud, and theft. The present decision under the Policy in no way restricts the pursuance by the Complainant of the matter in other competent legal fori.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is respectfully denied.
M. Scott Donahey
Dated: September 8, 2008