The Complainant is Gaja Società Semplice of Barbaresco, Italy, represented by SJ Berwin LLP, Italy.
The Respondent is GAJA.com of Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
The disputed domain name <gaja.com> is registered with Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 10, 2008. On December 10, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 11, 2008, Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response, confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
On December 15, 2008, the Center notified the parties of the Center's procedural rules relevant to the language of the proceeding. On December 19, 2008, the Complainant has submitted a request that English be the language of the proceeding, to which the Respondent has not replied. On December 24, 2008, the Center notified the parties of its preliminary decision to 1) accept the Complaint as filed in English; 2) accept a Response in either Korean or English; and 3) appoint a panel familiar with both languages mentioned above, if available.
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 accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceeding commenced on December 24, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 13, 2009. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on January 15, 2009.
The Center appointed Ik-Hyun Seo as the sole panelist in this matter on January 30, 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 Complainant is a well-known Italian wine producer in the Piedmont area that was founded in 1961. Its GAJA trademark corresponds to the surname of the family that manages the business and of its most prominent member in the present generation, Mr. Angelo Gaja. The Complainant holds trademark registrations relating to GAJA, including Italian trademark registration number 774855 for GAJA.
The Respondent appears to be an individual who has registered the disputed domain name using “GAJA.com” as the registrant information in the WhoIs database.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to marks in which the Complainant has rights. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to GAJA and GAJA BARBARESCO 1979, for which the Complainant has trademark registrations.
The Complainant also contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in a bona fide manner.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The points presented by the Complainant include, (1) the Respondent's history of cybersquatting; (2) present use of the disputed domain name in connection with a domain name parking service; and (3) Respondent's offered sale price for the disputed domain name, etc.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
Preliminary Issue: Language of the Proceeding
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise. In this case, the default language of the proceeding is Korean, and the Complainant submitted arguments as to why English is more appropriate. The Respondent did not respond on the issue of language. The Center issued a notice stating that it would accept the Complaint filed in English, and that the Response would be accepted in either Korean or English.
The Respondent, however, has not filed a Response or otherwise participated in the proceeding in any capacity. Further, there was quite proficient English communication between the Complainant's agents and the Respondent before the Complaint was filed, and the content displayed via the disputed domain name is entirely in English. Given these circumstances, the Panel finds little reason to render its decision in Korean to the prejudice and inconvenience of the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel finds it fairer and more appropriate to render the decision in English.
The Complainant has demonstrated with supporting evidence that it holds various trademark registrations, including one for GAJA. The disputed domain name entirely corresponds to the Complainant's asserted trademark, and is therefore identical.
For the reasons mentioned above, it is clear that the first element has been satisfied.
The Complainant has made the required allegations that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. While paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides various examples of how a respondent may demonstrate his/her rights or legitimate interests, the Respondent in this case has chosen to file no Response. Accordingly, there is no evidence or allegation in the record that would warrant a finding in favor of the Respondent on this point.
For these reasons and based on the findings below, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the Complainant has established the second element.
The existence of the Respondent's bad faith is quite clear in this matter. Not only is the Respondent presently using the domain name to generate revenue from a domain name parking service, at one point in the past, he displayed pictures of the Complainant's wines. This shows that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant, its products, and of course its trademark. Further, the Respondent offered a price of USD97,500 to the Complainant's agent for the disputed domain name. This is obviously quite exorbitant and indicative of an intention to improperly profit from this sort of activity. Even though not conclusive here, the Panel notes that the individual associated with the current registrant/Respondent appears to have a history of cybersquatting domain names, as documented in several decisions before both the WIPO as well as other dispute resolution venues.
Given the circumstances described above, there is little doubt of the Respondent's bad faith in connection with the disputed domain name.
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 <gaja.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: March 3, 2009