The Complainant is Ryder Cup Europe LLP of Surrey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Max Bitel Greene LLP, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is Rydercuponline.com / Andrew Seaforth of Vancouver, Washington, United States of America and Hertfordshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, respectively.
The disputed domain name <rydercuponline.com> is registered with Dotster, Inc.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 30, 2010. On April 30, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Dotster, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 30, and May 5, 2010, Dotster, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 7, 2010, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on May 7, 2010. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 proceedings commenced on May 11, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 31, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on June 1, 2010.
The Center appointed Anthony R. Connerty as the sole panelist in this matter on June 7, 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.
This dispute concerns the domain name <rydercuponline.com> which was registered on April 1, 2010. The registrar with which the Domain Name is registered is Dotster, Inc.
The Complainant organises the professional golf tournament Ryder Cup, which it indicates is “one of the world's greatest sporting events which began formally in 1927.” The Complainant further explains that “[t]wo teams are entered into the Event, the teams compete against each other; one team represents America and the other Europe. The Event takes place every four years at a venue located in either America or Europe, depending upon whether it is Team Europe or Team America who is hosting the Event.”
The Complainant's case is that the Registrant is advertising for sale tickets for the Ryder Cup event via a website at “www.rydercuponline.com”. The Complaint says that “[t]ickets are listed as being advertised for sale on the home page and the Respondent welcomes visitors to the website by making reference to its business ‘RyderCupTickets.com' [...] The Respondent is also using copies of the Complainant['s] logo [...] on the Website. The Logo is specific to the event which is being held in October 2010 at Celtic Manor and this logo incorporates the Complainant['s] Marks. Further, the presence of the Information, News and What's On page, which gives further detail about the Event, gives the consumer the false impression that the website is in some way affiliated to the Event.”
The Complainant further contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its RYDER CUP trademark; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and that the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
By an email communication of June 9, 2010 to the Center and purporting to be from Mr. Seaforth, a request was made for “a late application to defend my right to this domain.” On June 9, 2010, the Center forwarded the email communication to the Panel. On June 16, 2010, as instructed by the Panel, the Center requested Mr. Seaforth to notify the Center by June 17, 2010, whether he wished to request a late application to defend his right to the domain name. The Respondent did not reply to this email and did not file any late Response.
The Rules state that the Panel is required to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules, and any rules and principles of law that it deems appropriate: paragraph 15 of the Rules. Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove all three of the following elements in order to be entitled to the relief sought:
(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(c) sets out various circumstances which, if found by the Panel to be proved based on the evaluation of all the evidence presented, shall demonstrate that the Respondent has rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii). The list of circumstances is non-exhaustive.
For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii), paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
The domain name incorporates the Complainant's mark RYDER CUP entirely into the Respondent's domain name.
Numerous WIPO UDRP panels have found that a domain name that wholly incorporates a complainant's registered mark may be sufficient to establish confusing similarity for the purposes of the Policy: for example, The Ritz Hotel, Limited v. Damir Kruzicevic, WIPO Case No. D2005-1137.
The addition of the elements “online” and “.com” do not alter the fact that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar: the “online” part of the disputed domain name is a generic or dictionary word and is the e-commerce equivalent of “shop” or “store” in the world of bricks and mortar. See Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Joseph Fisher, WIPO Case No. D2000-1412. Moreover, it has been commonly held by UDRP panels that the gTLD extension of a domain name, such as “.com” is generally irrelevant for an assessment of identity or confusing similarity under the Policy.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
The disputed domain name has only recently been registered: less than one month before the filing of the Complaint. As noted above under section 5 B, no Response has been filed by the Respondent. There is nothing to suggest that the Respondent can bring himself within the provisions of paragraph 4(c)(i) or (ii) of the Rules.
On the basis of the Complainant's contentions – not challenged by the Respondent – that the disputed domain name and the Respondent's website are being used in an attempt to sell Ryder Cup tickets (which sale may involve the encouragement to breach third party contracts and/or may involve the illegitimate sale of the Complainant's Ryder Cup tickets), the Respondent cannot rely on the provisions of paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Rules.
The Panel therefore finds the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) satisfied.
In relation to bad faith, the Complainant relies upon the provisions of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Rules: “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”
Again, the unchallenged contentions of the Complainant are that the disputed domain name and the Respondent's website are being used in an effort to sell Ryder Cup tickets illegitimately.
For the purposes of the bad faith requirements, the Panel takes the view that a factor to be taken into account in this case is that such attempted sales involve – according to the Complainant – the encouragement of third parties to illegitimately sell the Complainant's Ryder Cup tickets, or to breach their contracts with the Complainant.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has proved the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Rules.
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, domain name <rydercuponline.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Anthony R. Connerty
Dated: June 19, 2010