The Complainant is V&S Vin & Sprit AB of Stockholm, Sweden, represented by von lode advokat ab, Sweden.
The Respondent is N/A of Cheshire, Weaverham, Northwich, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The disputed domain name <absolutescorts.com> is registered with Tucows Inc.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 5, 2010. On May 6, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Tucows Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 7, 2010, Tucows Inc. 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 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 10, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 30, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on May 31, 2010.
The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on June 2, 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.
The Complainant is a Swedish company founded in 1917. It distributes alcoholic beverages worldwide. The company owns and produces ABSOLUT VODKA, introduced in the United States of America in 1979, which is the fourth largest international premium spirit. In 2001, ABSOLUT was ranked as the 93rd most valuable trademark in the world by Interbrand.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous trademark registrations for ABSOLUT in more than one hundred countries dating back to the early 1980s, including registrations in the European Community and the United Kingdom where the Respondent is domiciled.
The Complainant has also utilized the trademark ABSOLUT in about 500 gTLDs and ccTLDs worldwide.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on November 10, 2008 and is currently using it as an entry page to sponsored sex links.
The Complainant submits that ABSOLUT is a highly reputable and well-known trademark around the world, as the 93rd most valuable trademark asset 2001 and the No. 1 luxury brand in 2002 according to certain studies.
The only difference between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's ABSOLUT trademark is the addition of the generic word “escorts” and the top domain name identifier “.com”. The phrase “escorts” is descriptive and does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant's mark. Previous UDRP cases have shown that simply adding a common or generic term to a famous mark is not sufficient to give the disputed domain name an individual meaning, nor is it enough to prevent the overall impression that the disputed domain name has some sort of connection with the Complainant.
The Complainant's use of the ABSOLUT mark predates the registration of the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent's use of the mark in any way and would not license the mark for use in conjunction with pornographic content or services of any kind. Furthermore, the Complainant has no business or any other connection or affiliation with the Respondent. The Respondent thus has no rights of legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent's motivation in registering and using the disputed domain name is simply to capitalize on the Complainant's goodwill inherent in its trademark ABSOLUT and to draw an increased number of Internet users to the Respondent's pornographic website for financial gain. The website acts as a portal displaying links to various websites containing pornographic content. The website is intended to generate advertisement revenue every time a visitor clicks on a link.
Finally, the use of the Complainant's well-known mark along with a word which has sexual connotations, leading to a website containing pornographic material, seriously tarnishes the ABSOLUT trademark and brand. For these reasons, it is clear that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
The disputed domain name consists of the Complainant's trademark ABSOLUT with the addition of the word “escorts”.
The Complainant's mark must be considered as a well-known trademark. This follows from the evidence submitted by the Complainant, and has also been stated in several previous panel decisions under the Policy (V&S Vin&Sprit AB v. Coreswood Limited, WIPO Case No. D2006-0594, <absolut-escort.com>; V&S Vin&Sprit AB v. Oliver Garcia, WIPO Case No. D2002-1081, <absolutsexo.com>).
As a WIPO case search with the term “absolute” shows, about 20 WIPO UDRP proceedings have been initiated by the Complainant in connection with its trademark ABSOLUT. In approximately a dozen of these cases, the disputed domain names contained generic additions of a sexual or pornographic nature (for a list of some of these cases, cf. V&S Vin&Sprit AB (publ) v. Paul Stephey, WIPO Case No. D2005-0992, <absolutsexxx.com>). All of the respective domain names were transferred.
The Panel finds that this case is no different than the others in that the addition of a generic word (“escorts”) to the well-known mark ABSOLUT does not alter the fact that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the mark.
The Complainant has thus fulfilled paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
Under the circumstances of this case, there are no indications before the Panel of any rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in respect of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant, having made a prima facie case which remains unrebutted, has fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
The disputed domain name is connected to a website containing sponsored sex links.
It is evident that the Respondent's only purpose in registering the disputed domain name was to divert traffic away from the Complainant's websites to its own website for commercial gain, by collecting fees from the owners of the sponsored links. Such activity falls squarely within the terms of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
It may also be concluded that the Respondent knew of the existence of the Complainant's trademark and its significance in the United Kingdom when the disputed domain name was registered.
Under the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent's conduct constitutes bad faith registration and use, thus fulfilling 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 disputed domain name <absolutescorts.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: June 14, 2010