The Complainant is Samsung Networks Inc. of Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, represented by Shinsegi Patent Law Firm, Republic of Korea.
The Respondent is Jiyong Choi of ChoongChungBuk-Do, Republic of Korea, self- represented.
The disputed domain name <samsung.cd> is registered with Congo Internet Management.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) by email on January 12, 2010. On January 13, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Congo Internet Management a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 19, 2010, Congo Internet Management 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 January 29, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 18, 2010. The Response was filed with the Center on February 8, 2010.
The Center appointed Professor Ilhyung Lee as the sole panelist in this matter on February 11, 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 Panel determines that English is the language of the proceeding, as discussed herein.
The Complainant is one of several member companies within Samsung Group, a conglomerate based in the Republic of Korea (Korea), with operations worldwide. The Complainant is engaged in the business of global information communication services, and is also “responsible for managing the domain names on behalf of the member companies of the Samsung Group, including the registration and administration of many domain names for these member companies.”
Samsung Group has used the SAMSUNG mark for products and services since the 1930s. Samsung entities obtained various registrations of the mark in Korea beginning from 1970; they have also registered the mark in a number of other countries worldwide, including Switzerland, on September 29, 1978, and the United States, on August 11, 1981. In addition, the Complainant registered the domain names <samsung.com> (on November 29, 1994) and <samsung.net> (March 3, 1997).
The Respondent, a Korean national, registered the disputed domain name on November 14, 2006.
The Complainant contends that: (i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent personally submitted the Response. He states, among others, that:
- SAMSUNG is not famous or well-known in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo);
- it is not clear that SAMSUNG is registered as a mark in Congo, and that registration “is a necessary thing for the complainant to prove in domain dispute”;
- “[t]he respondent just bought the name, Samsung, just because we liked it”;
- “[t]he respondent is not selling the registered domain, and not using the domain against Samsung”;
- “the respondent is running a website which is never connected to Samsung group, and it would be difficult to say it's a bad purpose”;
- “Congo is a country that internet infra is so weak, so the respondent doesn't have any actual benefits through the domain, and futuristic element is not clear, either”; and
- “[t]herefore, the respondent protests the fact that there's any bad purpose the complainant insists.”
Initially, the Panel must address the language of the proceeding.
The Center transmitted to the Respondent the Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding, in English text. In acknowledging receipt, the Respondent requested, in English, a “change of language for this case,” stating that it is “unfair” to proceed in English. In reply, the Center informed the Respondent: “in accordance with . . . paragraph 11 [of the Rules], the language of the registration agreement shall be the language of the proceedings (in this case being English, as confirmed by the concerned registrar), unless otherwise agreed by the parties and subject to the Panel's authority to determine otherwise.” The Respondent timely submitted his Response, in English.
Here, the registration agreement is in the English language. The correspondence between and among the Center and the parties has been in English. The Complainant, a Korean corporation, filed the Complaint in English, and the Respondent, a Korean national, submitted his Response in the same language after initial objection. The Panel sees no reason to depart from English as the language of the proceeding.
The Complainant has rights in the mark, SAMSUNG. The disputed domain name is comprised of the Complainant's mark exactly, followed by the country code top level domain, “.cd”, for Congo. The Panel determines that <samsung.cd> is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights.
The Respondent argues that SAMSUNG is not well known in Congo, and that the mark is not registered there. These assertions, even if true, are not relevant in the determination of this element of the Policy.
The first element is established.
The Complainant states that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and has met its initial burden of making a prima facie showing. The burden shifts to the Respondent to demonstrate any such rights or legitimate interests.
In the Response, the Respondent acknowledges, “The respondent doesn't have legitimate interests in respect of the domain . . . .” The Panel reaches this conclusion independently. The Panel is unable to ascertain any evidence that would demonstrate the Respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, as described in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or otherwise.
The second element is demonstrated.
In order to prevail, the Complainant must also show that the disputed domain name “has been registered and is being used in bad faith,” as set forth in paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
SAMSUNG is a well-known and famous mark worldwide, especially in Korea. Although the Respondent asserts that he “bought the name, Samsung, just because we liked it,” it strains credulity to say that the Respondent selected “samsung” for a domain name without knowledge of the mark's fame or the public's instant recognition of the mark. The Panel draws appropriate inferences to conclude bad faith.
In addition, the Panel determines that bad faith is established under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, which provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that are evidence of bad faith in the registration and use of a domain name. As described in paragraph 4(b)(iv), the Panel concludes that the Respondent, by using the domain name, has “intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent's] website ..., by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement” of the Respondent's website.
The third element is present.
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 <samsung.cd> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: February 25, 2010