Complainant is ING Groep N.V. of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, represented by Vereenigde, The Netherlands.
Respondent is Wilson Sosa of Maldonado, Uruguay.
The disputed domain name <inginsurance.com> is registered with Network Solutions LLC.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 2, 2010. On March 3, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 3, 2010, 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” 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 8, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 28, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on March 29, 2010.
The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on April 9, 2010. 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.
Complainant is a global financial institution, specializing in insurance and banking. Complainant's operations span, inter alia, Europe, North and South America, as do its marks. Records show that in fiscal year 2008, one branch of ING earned EUR 54,851 million in income from the insurance business alone. Due to extensive use and promotion, Complainant's ING mark has become widely-known for its insurance and other financial services globally. An Interbrand Survey of international companies placed ING at number 86 in “Best Global Brands” in 2008, holding steady from 2007, ranking Complainant between the Starbucks and Motorola corporations.
Complainant has obtained several trademark registrations for ING globally. These marks date from at least the early 1990s. For example, Complainant obtained several trademarks in Uruguay, the listed home country of Respondent, prior to Respondent's registration of the disputed domain name. These include Trademark No. 371095 for ING, and design (issued 1992) and No. 248390 for ING BANK, and design (issued 1992).
Complainant owns the registration for the domain name <ing.com>. Complainant uses this domain name to connect to a website through which it informs potential customers about its ING mark and its insurance and financial services and products.
The domain name <inginsurance.com> was registered on July 14, 1997. Respondent has no affiliation with Complainant. Respondent has in the past provided sponsored links on the disputed domain name to websites that describe or advertise goods or services that are unaffiliated with Complainant or Complainant's services. These include competing products. Complainant has not authorized these links, nor the use of its trademarks therewith.
Respondent has offered the disputed domain name for sale, and engaged in a bidding discussion whereby Complainant offered up to EUR 11,000 for the disputed domain name, but Respondent declined to accept less than EUR 16,500 (EUR 15,000 plus transfer fees) from Complainant.
Complainant contends that (i) <inginsurance.com> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant's trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions in this proceeding.
This Panel must first determine whether <inginsurance.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph (4)(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is. The disputed domain name directly incorporates Complainant's well-known, registered trademark ING, and merely adds the descriptive word “insurance.”
The Panel finds that the added word would be perceived by web users as descriptive of a website where they could find information about Complainant's insurance services and products. This is particularly so since Complainant is well-known for its insurance services and products. Furthermore, Complainant has registered marks containing ING with descriptive terms such as “banking” or “insurance” in the past. So, consumers would expect to find information offered by Complainant on such a website.
Numerous UDRP panels have agreed that supplementing or modifying a trademark with generic or descriptive words does not make a domain name any less “identical or confusingly similar” for purposes of satisfying this first prong of paragraph (4)(a)(i) of the Policy. See, for example, Microsoft Corporation v. Step Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-1500 (transferring <microsofthome.com>); General Electric Company v. Recruiters, WIPO Case No. D2007-0584 (transferring <ge-recruiting.com>); CBS Broadcasting Inc. v. Y2K Concepts Corp., WIPO Case No. D2000-1065 (transferring <cbsone.com>).
This Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph (4)(a)(i) of the Policy.
The Policy provides some guidance to respondents on how to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain names at issue in a UDRP dispute. For example, paragraph (4)(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name “in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services”; (ii) demonstration that Respondent has been “commonly known by the domain name”; or (iii) “legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue”.
Respondent did not reply to the Complaint, however, and no evidence has been presented to this Panel that might support a claim of Respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Rather, as mentioned in Section 4 of this Panel's decision, Respondent has used the disputed domain name to divert Internet users via sponsored links, to websites that are unaffiliated with Complainant or Complainant's services.
Therefore, this Panel finds that Complainant has provided sufficient evidence of Respondent's lack of “rights or legitimate interests” in accordance with paragraph (4)(a)(ii) of the Policy which the Respondent has not rebutted.
There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that domain names were registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph (4)(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where “by using the domain name [respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent's] web site or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [respondent's] website or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location”. As noted in Section 4 of this Panel's decision, Respondent has provided sponsored links on the disputed domain name to websites that describe or advertise goods or services that are unaffiliated with Complainant or Complainant's services. These include competing products. Complainant has not authorized these links, nor the use of its trademarks therewith. In so doing, Respondent is trading on the goodwill of Complainant's trademarks to attract Internet users, presumably for Respondent's own commercial gain. This evidences bad faith by Respondent.
Furthermore, Complainant has evidenced that Respondent has “registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs,” in a showing of bad faith as contemplated by paragraph (4)(b)(i) of the Policy. In particular, Respondent offered the disputed the domain name for sale for EUR 28,000 on a bidding website. Complainant engaged in a bidding discussion whereby Complainant offered up to EUR 11,000 for the disputed domain name, but Respondent declined to accept less than EUR 16,500 (EUR 15,000 plus transfer fees) from Complainant. Respondent even stated, at one point in the discussion “Hello. At this moment our client, a very important insurance broker from LA, is developing a website for this domain name. If you could approach his asking price, he wiil [sic] consider selling it.”
Therefore, this Panel finds that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with 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 <inginsurance.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: April 16, 2010