The Complainant BHP Billiton Innovation Pty Ltd. is an incorporated Company in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The Complainant is represented through Griffith Hack Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, Australia.
The Respondents are (i) DomainDoorman LLC Privacy Service, Coconut Grove, Florida, the United States of America and, (ii) Pertshire Marketing, Ltd, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland.
The disputed domain names <bhbbilliton.com> and <bhpbilton.com> registered with DomainDoorman LLC.
On November, 11, 2008, the Complainant submitted a complaint through e-mail to the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) for a decision in accordance with 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”) against the Respondent No. 1.
On November 12, 2008, the Center sent a Request for Verification to the Registrar.
On November, 13, 2008, the Registrar, confirmed by e-mail to the Center that it was the Registrar of the said Domain Names and that the registrant of the said Domain Names is not the Respondent No. 1. The Registrar identified the Respondent of the Domain Names <bhpbilition.com> and <bhbbilliton.com> as Pertshine Marketing Ltd.
On November 14, 2008, the Center sent a Notice of Change in Registrant information to the Complainant. The Center invited the Complainant to amend the Complaint by amending the additional information, which was provided by the Registrar on November 13, 2008.
On November 14, 2008, The Center asked the Registrar to confirm in accordance with ICANN's Expired Domain Deletion Policy, paragraph, 3.7 and 5.7;
a) that the Domain Name <bhpbiliton.com> will be placed in Registrar LOCK status and that the Domain Name will remain in such status after the lapse of the expiry date until the UDRP proceedings are concluded and;
b) whether any action is required by the parties (either now by the Respondent, or by the Complainant in the event that the Domain Name is deleted or expires during the dispute) to keep the Domain Name under Registrant LOCK so that the administrative procedure can continue as required under the UDRP.
On November 17, 2008, The Registrar confirmed that the domain shall remain in the Registrar LOCK until the end of the Administrative proceedings. The Registrar expressed the guarantee of the payment of $49 as a renewal fee prior to the transfer of the Domain Name in case the Complainant is the prevailing party to the dispute.
On November 17, 2008, the Complainant's representative agreed to make payment of renewal fee of $49 prior to the transfer of Domain Name.
On November 18, 2008, the Complainant submitted the amended Complaint electronically to the Center.
On December 4, 2008, the Complainant submitted the amended Complaint in hard copy to the Center.
On December 5, 2008, having found that the amended Complainant had satisfied the formal requirements of the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules, the Center sent the Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (the Notification) by post/courier, facsimile and e-mail to the Respondents and the same was copied electronically to Complainant's Representative. It also extended copies of the Notification to The Registrar.
The Notification set the formal date of the commencement of this administrative proceeding as December 5, 2008 and required the Respondents to submit response to the Complainant and the Center within twenty (20) calendar days from the date of receipt of the Notification, i.e., by December 25, 2008, failing which the Respondents would be considered to be in default.
On December 29, 2008, the Center sent the Notification of Respondents Default to the Respondents and copied it to the Complainant's Representative via e-mail.
On January 12, 2009, the Center appointed me to be the Panel after receiving the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
On January 12, 2009, the Center sent a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel and Projected Decision Date to the Complainant's Representative and the Respondents by e-mail. On the same day, the Center sent a Transmission of Case File to the Panel.
The Panel finds that the Center has discharged its obligations and responsibilities under the Rules. The Panel will issue its decision based on the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules and any principles of law that the Panel deems to be applicable.
The Complainant states that it is the world's largest diversified resources group employing approximately 37,000 in more than 100 operations in 25 countries. BHP Billiton was crated through DLC merger of BHP Limited (now BHP Billiton Limited) and Billiton Plc, which was concluded on June 29, 2001. In the Complaint, the group is referred to as BHP Billiton.
The Complainant further states that BHP Billiton is headquartered in Melbourne with major offices in London and supporting offices around the world. BHP Billiton operates a website “www.bhpbilliton.com”. The Complainant has filed its company profile as Annexure 3 to the Complaint.
BHP Billiton Innovation is a wholly owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton Limited holding some of BHP Billiton's Intellectual Property.
The Complainant has annexed WHOIS records of various Domain Names as Annexure 5 to the Complaint.
The Complainant has also filed list of search reports from the Trade Mark Databases of Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom for the mark BHP BILLITON in various classes as Annexure 6 to the Complaint.
The Complainant submits that the Domain Names <bhpbilliton.com> and <bhpbiliton.com> are confusingly similar to BHP Billiton's extensive portfolio of BHP BILLITON trademarks. The Complainant submits that the BHP BILLITON is not only highly distinctive but it has over the years become the world's most well known brand in diversified resources. It follows that non-distinctive alterations (exchanging “p” for “b” and removal of “li”) to this highly distinctive mark do not sufficiently distance the disputed domain names from BHP Billiton Innovation's trademark in order to avoid confusion.
It further submits that consumers upon viewing the Domain Names <bhbbilliton.com> and <bhpbiliton.com> are highly likely to expect an association with BHP Billiton.
The Complainant submits that for the following reasons, the Respondents do not have any right or legitimate interest in the Domain Names.
a) The Respondents have not any time been commonly known by the Domain Names. Furthermore, BHP Billiton is not aware of any trademarks in which the Respondents may have rights that are identical or similar to the Domain Names.
b) The Respondents are not making a legitimate, non-commercial or fair use of the disputed names. The Complainant has made reference to screen shots of the Respondents' website <bhbbilliton.com> and <bhpbiliton.com> which, consists of standard linking pages containing sponsored links annexed to the Complaint as Annexure 7. The Respondents are deriving commercial benefit from such sponsored links.
c) The Respondents are intentionally engaging in a conduct which is misleading to consumers by diverting Internet traffic away from BHP Billiton's website “www.bhpbilliton.com”. The Respondents are attempting to generate business through sponsored links by exploiting confusion amongst the consumers as to the association or affiliation of the Respondents' website with the goods and services of BHP Billiton.
The Complainant submits that the Domain Names are registered and used in bad faith.
The Respondents have not filed any Response.
Paragraph 5 (a) of the Rules requires the respondent to submit its response to the Center within twenty (20) days of the commencement of the administrative proceeding.
By paragraph 5 (b)(i) of the Rules, it is expected of the respondent to:
“respond specifically to the statements and allegations contained in the complaint and include any and all bases for the Respondent (domain name holder) to retain registration and use of the disputed domain name”
By the Notification, the Center informed the Respondents that the last date for sending response was December 25, 2008. The Respondents have failed to submit response. In view of the default it is open to the Panel, under paragraph (14)(b) of the Rules to:
“draw such inferences…as it considers appropriate.”
The inferences include the right of the Panel to conclude as stated in Ogaan India Private Limited v. Mehboob Alam, WIPO Case No. D2000-0720:
“that the Respondent has no evidence to rebut the assertion of the Complainant.”
However before arriving at a decision, due heed must be paid to what was said in Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM, WIPO Case No. D2000-0403. In that administrative proceeding, it was the Panel's view that
“in the absence of a response to the Complainant's allegations by the Respondent, the Panel must evaluate those claims in the light of the unchallenged evidence submitted by the Complainant.”
It is therefore obligatory on the part of the Panel to ascertain, despite the absence of the response, whether the Complainant has successfully made out a case against the Respondents for the transfer of the Domain Names to the Complainant.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy envisages that to succeed, the complainant must establish that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant must prove that all the aforesaid three elements are present.
The Complainant claims rights to the mark BHP BILLITON by virtue of registered trademark BHP BILLITON in various classes in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The Complainant also asserts its rights in the domain name <bhpbilliton.com>. The Panel finds that the Domain Names <bhbbilliton.com> and <bhpbilton.com> are identical and/or confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark BHP BILLITON (also to the domain name <bhpbilliton.com>) and are likely to cause confusion and deception in the mind of Internet users.
The Complainant has discharged its onus to prove the first element as required by the paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel accepts the case setup by the Complainant to establish that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark BHP BILLITON and the domain name <bhpbilliton.com>.
The Respondent No.1 is apparently providing privacy services relating to the registration of the Domain Names through the ICANN accredited Registrar by the name of DomainDoorman LLC. The Respondent No.1 has apparently provided privacy shield services to the Respondent No.2 and the Registrar disclosed the identity on verification by the Center.
The Respondent No.2 has not filed any response to the Complaint nor has claimed or established that it has any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names.
The case of the Complainant that the Respondent has not been known by the Domain Names remains unrebutted and unchallenged. Furthermore, in order to prove that the Respondents are not making non-commercial use of the Domain Names the Complainant has annexed screen shots of the websites hosted on the Domain Names as Annexure 7 to the Complaint. The case of the Complainant that Respondents are intentionally engaging in conduct which is misleading consumers by diverting Internet traffic away from BHP BILLITON's website “www.bhpbilliton.com” also remains unrebutted and unchallenged. The Respondent No.2 is attempting to generate business through sponsored links by exploiting confusion amongst consumers as to the association or affiliation of the Respondents' website with the goods and services of BHP Billiton.
The Panel accepts the Complainant submissions. Since the Respondent No. 2 has failed to prove its rights in the Domain Names and reply to the Complainant's contentions, the second element of paragraph 4.a.(ii) is satisfied in favor of the Complainant and against the Respondents.
The Complainant asserts that BHP Billiton is a well-known mark of the Complainant and the registration of the Domain Names by the Respondents is registered in bad faith having full knowledge of the reputation of the Complainant's rights in the mark BHP Billiton.
The Complainant further asserts that the Respondents have registered the Domain Names <bhpbilton.com> and <bhbbilliton.com> with a primary aim of diverting the Internet traffic intended for BHP Billiton to the Respondents' website containing sponsored links.
The Complainant further asserts that the Respondents have by using the Domain Names intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the Respondents' website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's trademark.
a) BHP Billiton enjoys a world wide reputation in its BHP Billiton marks and domain names is established from the submissions made in paragraph 15 of the complaint indicating that BHP Billiton generated turnover of USD 47.5 billion and USD 59.5 billion in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Zwack Unicum Rt. v. Erica J. Duna, WIPO Case No. D2000-0037.
b) The Respondents have registered the Domain Names primarily for the purposes of disrupting the business of BHP Billiton as is apparent from the fact that the Domain Names are obvious misspellings of BHP Billiton's trademark BHP BILLITON as well as its well-known domain name <bhpbilliton.com>. The Domain Names have been registered by the Respondents for the primary purpose of diverting Internet traffic intended for BHP BILLITON to the Respondents' Domain Names containing sponsored links.
c) The Respondents have by using the disputed domain names and pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondents' website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's trademark.
d) It is highly unlikely that the Respondents were not aware of the Complainant's BHP Billiton trademark in view of the fact that BHP Billiton is one of the world's largest resource groups. BHP Billiton has acquired a reputation in its BHP BILLITON trademark is established by documentary evidence produced on record. The choice of the Respondents' Domain Names, namely two obvious misspellings of the BHP BILLITON trademark are in itself evident of the Respondents' knowledge of BHP BILLITON's trademark rights and its business.
e) It may be inferred from the Respondents' conduct in registering two Domain Names consisting of misspellings of BHP Billiton's well-known trademark that the Respondents were aware of that mark. Autosales Incorporated, dba Summit Racing Equipment v. Domain Active Pty. Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2004-0459.
f) The Respondents are engaging in typo-squatting. The practice of typosquatting in itself constitutes bad faith registration and use.
g) The Respondent No.2 Pertshire Marketing, Ltd has in the past been a party in an administrative proceeding under UDRP. The decision of Deutsche Borse AG v. Pertshire Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2006-0786 concerning domain name <deutschborse.com>.
h) The Respondent No.2 is engaging in a pattern of conduct of registering domain names containing third party trademarks.
The Panel accepts the contentions raised by the Complainant and in the absence of any response submitted by the Respondents, admits the case set up by the Complainant and discharges the Complainant of proving the last element as per 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 names, <bhpbilton.com> and <bhbbilliton.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: January 26, 2009