The Complainant is Aktiebolaget Swedbank, of Stockholm, Sweden, represented by Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Dragon Domains Limited, John Stewart Last, of Central, United States of America.
The disputed domain names <swdebank.com>, <swedabnk.com>, <swedank.com> and <swedbak.com> (the “Domain Names”) are registered with M.G. Infocom Pvt. Ltd. dba MindGenies.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 27, 2008. On December 1, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to M.G. Infocom Pvt. Ltd. dba MindGenies a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On December 6, 2008, M.G. Infocom Pvt. Ltd. dba MindGenies 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” or “UDRP”), 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 regards to the pending expiry of the disputed domain names, the Center sent an email communication to M.G. Infocom Pvt. Ltd. dba MindGenies, requesting confirmation that the disputed domain names would be locked and whether any action of the parties was required to keep the disputed domain names locked. M.G. Infocom Pvt. Ltd. dba MindGenies informed that the disputed domain names were already locked and that the Parties had to pay the renewal fee. The Complainant subsequently paid the renewal fee on January 11, 2009.
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 December 12, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 1, 2009. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on January 5, 2009.
The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on January 16, 2009. 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.
The Domain Names were registered by the Respondent on the following dates:
<swdebank.com> on January 5, 2008;
<swedabnk.com> on January 5, 2008;
<swedank.com> on January 8, 2008;
<swedbak.com> on January 8, 2008.
The Complainant is a public limited liability company registered in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a leading financial institution with 22,000 employees, servicing around 9 million private and 500,000 corporate customers in Sweden and the Baltic states.
The Complainant has used the mark SWEDBANK for many years preceding the registration of the Domain Names. It is the proprietor of registered trade marks for the name SWEDBANK in various classes in numerous territories throughout the world.
In addition, the mark SWEDBANK has gained international renown in connection with the Complainant's high quality products and services. This is the result of the Complainant's longstanding use of the mark in connection with those products and services and its substantial expenditure on production, distribution and advertising under the mark.
Further, the Complainant is the proprietor of approximately 300 generic and country-code top level domain names incorporating the mark SWEDBANK, registered throughout the world.
The Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant's mark SWEDBANK and were deliberately chosen for that reason. Anyone seeing the Domain Names is liable to believe that they are owned by or commercially associated with the Complainant. The Respondent is using the Domain Names to resolve to websites that generate income for itself on the basis of this confusion.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. It has no trade marks or trade names corresponding to any of the Domain Names and there is no evidence of any business connection with the Complainant's mark SWEDBANK. The Complainant has no business connection with the Respondent and has not licensed or authorised it to use the Complainant's mark.
The Domain Names are being used in bad faith. The Complainant's mark SWEDBANK is famous and reputed and it is highly unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of it when registering the Domain Names. On the contrary, it is to be inferred that the Respondent deliberately registered the Domain Names in the knowledge of the Complainant's goodwill.
The Complainant sent the Respondent a cease and desist letter upon becoming aware of the Domain Names in October 2008. No response has been made to that letter or to subsequent correspondence.
The Complainant seeks the transfer of the Domain Names.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
In order to succeed in its Complaint, the Complainant is required to prove that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are:
(i) that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names; and
(iii) that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The Panel observes that, although the Respondent has failed to file a Response, it is still for the Complainant to prove its case. Further, while the factual assertions made by the Complainant may be uncontradicted by the Respondent, the Panel must nevertheless examine the circumstances that are apparent from the Complaint itself in arriving at its conclusions.
The Panel finds that each of the Domain Names is confusingly similar to the Complainant's mark SWEDBANK. The Domain Names are inherently similar, involving in each case the addition, subtraction and/or substitution of individual letters, without altering the overall similarity of the Domain Names to the mark. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any of the Domain Names has any meaning or significance independent of the Complainant's mark.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of any of the Domain Names. The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made out its prima facie case; the burden of proof, accordingly, shifts to the Respondent to show it has rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names. Other than by its use of the Domain Names themselves, there is no evidence that the Respondent has ever traded under or is commonly known by any of the Domain Names or names similar to them or that it has rights or legitimate interests in any such names. The Panel accepts the Complainant's submission that it has never licensed or authorised the Respondent to use its mark SWEDBANK.
The Panel accepts the Complainant's contentions that the Respondent is using the Domain Names to resolve to websites from which it derives click-through or other revenue. The Respondent has offered no explanation for its registration and use of the Domain Names. In the light of the nature of the Domain Names and of their use, the Panel finds that the Domain Names have been registered and used in bad faith, namely, unfairly to take advantage of the Complainant's goodwill in its SWEDBANK mark. Not only are the Domain Names liable to be confused with the Complainant's mark as the Complainant contends, but they are also domain names that an Internet user is liable to type in error when seeking to access the Complainant's own websites. Thus the Panel infers that the Respondent is also engaged in “typosquatting”.
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, <swdebank.com>, <swedabnk.com>, <swedank.com>, and <swedbak.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Steven A. Maier
Dated: January 23, 2009