WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Veolia Envinronnment S.A. v. Raj Singh
Case No. D2010-2048
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Veolia Envinronnment S.A. of Paris, France, represented by Ipulse IP Ltd, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is Raj Singh, of March, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <veoliarecycling.com> and <veoliaskips.com> are registered with Advantage Interactive Ltd.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 25, 2010. On November 25, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Advantage Interactive Ltd. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On November 26, 2010, Advantage Interactive Ltd. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amended Complaint on December 7, 2010.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 December 8, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 28, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any formal Response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 29, 2010.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on January 11, 2011. 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant was founded more than 150 year ago and currently employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. The Complainant provides a wide range of services within the areas of water supply, energy services, waste management and transportation.
The Complainant holds rights to the registered trademark VEOLIA in the United Kingdom and a number of other jurisdictions. Its main website is located at “www.veolia.com” but the Complainant also holds and uses other domain names such as <veolia.co.uk>.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The following is summarized from the Complaint.
i). Identical or confusingly similar
Although the Complainant does not substantiate this point in the complaint in detail the Panel reads the Complaint so that the Complainant contends that disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark VEOLIA.
ii). Rights or legitimate interests
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy nor is the Respondent making any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain names, as they do not lead the Internet users to any legitimate websites. In addition the Respondent barely answered the Complainant’s cease and desist letter and its reminder.
iii). Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith.
It seems obvious that the only reason for the Respondent to register the dispute domain names was to capitalize on the Complainant’s rights in the VEOLIA mark. This is underlined by the fact that the Respondent has registered a number of domain names which relate to other third party brand names, since this demonstrates that the Respondent is engaged in a pattern of conduct of registering such domain names. As an argument for bad faith on the side of the Respondent the Complainant further refers to a current dispute between the parties concerning the domain name <veeoliaskips.co.uk> in which the Respondent has requested the Complainant to put forward a proposal to buy the said domain name from the Respondent.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules the Panel shall decide a complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that a complainant must prove each of the following:
(1) that the domain name registered by respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(2) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules, or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences there from as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar (in the sense of the Policy) to the Complainant’s registered trademark because they both contain the mark in its entirety. The addition of the generic terms “recycling” and “skips” respectively to the trademark to form the disputed domain names, does not dispel a finding of confusing similarity. Moreover, it has also long been held by UDRP panels that the gTLD suffixes do not generally preclude a finding of confusing similarity where it otherwise exists, as it does in the present case.
The Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are therefore fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It seems clear from the Complaint that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark.
Given the circumstances of this case, the Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent has not rebutted this and the way the Respondent is using the disputed domain names does not support a finding of rights or legitimate interests.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent has not rebutted this by way of a formal Response or otherwise. The disputed domain names were registered after the Complainant first registered and started using its trademark VEOLIA, and the Respondent is currently using the disputed domain names for websites that contain only links to third party websites that offer products and services some of which are similar to and in competition with those offered by the Complainant. The Respondent thus could not credibly claim that the disputed domain names are intended to be used for any legitimate purpose.
Consequently the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain names in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides examples of circumstances which shall be evidence of registration and use in bad faith:
i) circumstances indicating that the holder has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the holder’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
ii) the holder has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the holder has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
iii) the holder has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
iv) by using the domain name, the holder has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the holder’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 the holder’s web site or location or of a product or service on the holder’s web site or location.
Accordingly, for the Complainant to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Given the circumstances of this case, the Panel is satisfied under the specific circumstances of the present case that the Respondent is likely to have been aware of the Complainant, its VEOLIA mark and the Complainant’s activities when registering the disputed domain names. Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that it chose domain names which could attract Internet users in a manner that is likely to create confusion for such users.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names were registered in bad faith.
Further, at the time of rendering this decision the disputed domain names were used for websites which contain links to websites that offer products and services that are similar to and in competition with those offered by the Complainant. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent by its registration and use of the disputed domain names, intentionally created a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain names with the purpose of attracting Internet users to the website for commercial gain.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant has proven 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 names <veoliarecycling.com> and <veoliaskips.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: January 19, 2011