World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

AXA SA v. Enrique

Case No. D2010-1888

1. The Parties

The Complainant is AXA SA of Paris, France, represented by Selarl Marchais De Candé of France.

The Respondent is Enrique of Madrid, Spain.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <groupeaxa.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 5, 2010. The Center transmitted its request for registrar verification to the Registrar on November 8, 2010. The Registrar replied the same day, confirming that it was the registrar and the Respondent was the registrant of the Domain Name, that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) applied, that the Domain Name was on Registrar Lock and would remain locked during this proceeding subject to scheduled expiry on May 29, 2011, and that the registration agreement was in English. The Registrar did not dispute that the registration agreement contained a submission by the registrant to the jurisdiction at the Registrar’s location. The Registrar provided the full contact details held on its WhoIs database in respect of the Domain Name.

The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the 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 paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a) of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 12, 2010. Confirmation of delivery of the notification by email and courier to the Respondent was received by the Center. In accordance with paragraph 5(a) of the Rules, the due date for Response was December 2, 2010.

The Respondent sent an email to the Center on November 21, 2010, in which he confirmed that he had received notice of the proceeding and stated that the Domain Name was purchased by him as it was available, but that it was inactive. He asked to be informed if he had to perform some action in relation to the Domain Name in which he had no particular interest. The Center forwarded this email to the Complainant, stating that the Complainant might wish to consider requesting a suspension of the proceeding to explore a possible settlement.

The Respondent sent a further email to the Center on November 28, 2010, stating that he had no problem with transferring the Domain Name and that he had no interest in it. He asked if it was necessary for him to sign anything to suspend, release or transfer ownership. The Center forwarded this to the Complainant on December 3, 2010, and asked the Complainant to confirm by December 6, 2010, whether it wished to explore a settlement between the parties, failing which the Center would proceed to appoint the Panel. The Complainant did not respond and the Center informed the parties on December 7, 2010, that it would proceed to appoint a Panel.

The Respondent wrote to the Center on December 8, 2010, offering again to transfer the Domain Name and reiterating that he had no interest in it. The Center replied to the Respondent on December 9, 2010, advising him that the Complainant had informed the Center by telephone that it wished to continue with the proceeding. The Respondent wrote back to the Center the same day asking what was the problem since there was no impediment to transferring the Domain Name, what would happen following the appointment of the Expert, and what should he do. The Center acknowledged receipt of this email the following day and informed the Respondent that the proceeding could not be suspended unless the Center received a written request from the Complainant.

The Center appointed Jonathan Turner as the sole panelist in this matter on December 10, 2010. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules. Having reviewed the file, the Panel finds that the Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements, was duly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a properly constituted Panel in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is the holding company of a large group of companies operating in many countries around the world in the fields of property and casualty insurance, life insurance and savings, and asset management. The Complainant is quoted on the Paris and New York stock exchanges. The Complainant owns registered trademarks for the word AXA in numerous countries and also owns a registered trademark in France for GROUPE AXA. The Complainant has also registered the domain names <axa.com>, <axa.fr> and <axa.info>.

The Domain Name was registered by the Respondent without the Complainant’s permission and has been directed to a holding page of the Internet services provider, Tractes.com. The Complainant wrote to the Respondent on October 22, 2010, requesting transfer of the Domain Name, but the Respondent did not reply.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is effectively identical to its registered mark GROUPE AXA and confusingly similar to its registered marks AXA, from which it differs only in the addition of the generic prefix “groupe” and the generic top level domain suffix. The Complainant states that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Complainant alleges that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith for the purpose of attracting Internet users to the Respondent’s web page and making an unfair benefit from the Complainant’s reputation. The Complainant requests a decision that the Domain Name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

The Respondent stated that he registered the Domain Name because it was free, that he had no interest in it, and that he was willing to transfer it to the Complainant.

6. Discussion and Findings

As noted above, the Complainant has requested transfer of the Domain Name and the Respondent has stated that he has no objection to the transfer of the Domain Name to the Complainant.

As the panel held in The Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. Mike Morgan, WIPO Case No. D2005-1132,

“A genuine unilateral consent to transfer by the Respondent provides a basis for an immediate order for transfer without consideration of the paragraph 4(a) elements. Where the Complainant has sought transfer of a disputed domain name, and the Respondent consents to transfer, then pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules the Panel can proceed immediately to make an order for transfer. This is clearly the most expeditious course (see Williams-Sonoma, Inc. v. EZ-Port, WIPO Case No. D2000-0207)”

This approach has been followed in a number of other decisions: see, for example, Valero Energy Corporation, Valero Refining and Marketing Company v. RareNames, WebReg, WIPO Case No. D2006-1336; Nutri/System, IPHC, Inc. v. Texas International Property Associates, WIPO Case No. D2007-0864; KBC Group N.V. and KBC Bank N.V. v. Bank Dir, Bankgroup, WIPO Case No. D2008-0446; and John Bowers QC v. Tom Keogan, WIPO Case No. D2008-1720.

There may be circumstances where it is appropriate to proceed to a consideration of the merits of the Complaint, for example where it is desirable to make a public finding of bad faith against a serial cybersquatter who has repeatedly sought to avoid such a finding by timely concession (see Brownells, Inc. v. Texas International Property Associates, WIPO Case No. D2007-1211 and Messe Frankfurt GmbH v. Texas International Property Associates, WIPO Case No. D2008-0375). It is clear that the panel has a discretion to consider the merits where appropriate, even if the respondent has consented to the relief sought by the Complainant.

In this case, there is no evidence on the file that the Respondent is a serial cybersquatter, and the Panel does not consider it appropriate to address the merits.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reason, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name, <groupeaxa.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonathan Turner
Sole Panelist
Dated: December 12, 2010

 

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