WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
General Motors LLC v. Sefa Yapici
Case No. D2010-2230
1. The Parties
The Complainant is General Motors LLC of Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, represented by Abelman Frayne & Schwab, United States of America.
The Respondent is Sefa Yapici of Adana, Turkey.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <chevroletfinancial.com> is registered with Melbourne IT Ltd.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 21, 2010. On December 21, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Melbourne IT Ltd. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 22, 2010, Melbourne IT Ltd. 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 December 29, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 18, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 19, 2011.
The Center appointed David Stone as the sole panelist in this matter on January 25, 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 is one of the largest automotive manufacturing companies in the world and has sold vehicles under the trade mark CHEVROLET since 1911.
The Complainant owns over 1000 trade mark registrations around the world for CHEVROLET or trade marks containing CHEVROLET. By way of example, the Complainant has had trade mark registrations for CHEVROLET in Turkey since 2001. In 2008 the Complainant sold over 8.35 million cars and trucks globally.
In addition to vehicles, the Complainant also offers financial services, including in relation to vehicles.
The disputed domain name was registered on December 6, 2008. The disputed domain name resolves to a web page featuring sponsored links to websites in competition of the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its registered trade mark CHEVROLET because it consists of the Complainant’s well-known mark together with the descriptive term “financial”.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, has not used the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, and has never carried on business or been commonly known by the name “Chevrolet”, or acquired related trade mark or service mark rights, prior to its registration of the disputed domain name.
Further, the Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet traffic to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website. The Complainant further submits that the Respondent intentionally attempted to create a false association, sponsorship or endorsement with or of the Complainant in order to trade off the goodwill and reputation of the Complainant.
The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove each and all of the following three elements in order to prevail in these proceedings:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant provided evidence that it has registered rights in CHEVROLET all over the world, including in the Respondent’s country, Turkey. The Panel finds that CHEVROLET is a well-known mark, at least in relation to motor vehicles, including in Turkey.
Previous UDRP panels have held that adding common terms to a registered trade mark and registering the result as a domain name does not mitigate the confusing similarity between the domain name and the mark (EAuto, L.L.C. v. Triple S. Auto Parts d/b/a Kung Fu Yea Enterprises, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0047 and Parfums Christian Dior v. 1 Netpower, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0022).
The Complainant also offers financial services. It is commonly known that vehicles are purchased by way of a loan or other financial arrangement. The Panel finds that the addition of the descriptive word “financial” to the Complainant’s CHEVROLET trade mark, by referencing the goods for which the mark is well-known, increases the likelihood of confusion: see Nintendo of America Inc. v. Fernando Sascha Gutierrez, WIPO Case No. D2009-0434; Nintendo of America Inc. v. Marco Beijen, Beijen Consulting, Pokemon Fan Clubs Org., and Pokemon Fans Unite, WIPO Case No. D2001-1070; Google Inc. v. Thilak Raj, Net Jobs, WIPO Case No. D2009-0033; and LEGO Juris A/S v. Private, Registration/Dohe Dot, WIPO Case No. D2009-0753.
Accordingly the Panel finds that the Complainant has established element 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Guidance in relation to establishing rights or legitimate interests is provided in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. Three circumstances are identified: (i) bona fide prior use; (ii) common association with the domain name and (iii) legitimate noncommercial use. The Complainant has made a prima facie case that none of these circumstances applies and that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests. The Respondent did not exercise the right to respond substantively in these proceedings. Thus, the Respondent has failed to rebut the prima facie case made by the Complainant (or advance any other argument supporting rights or legitimate interests).
Accordingly the Panel finds that the Complainant has established element 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Guidance regarding establishing bad faith is provided in paragraph 4(b) of the Policy. Four (non-exhaustive) circumstances are identified where the respondent’s intention in registering and using a domain name may provide evidence of bad faith. These intentions may be summarised as follows: (i) to sell the domain name to the rights holder at a profit; (ii) to engage in a pattern of preventing the rights holder registering a domain name; (iii) to disrupt the business of a competitor; and (iv) to divert Internet traffic for commercial purposes. The Complainant refers to the last circumstance. The Respondent has not submitted any counter-arguments.
Given the fame of the CHEVROLET mark, the Panel finds that in all likelihood the Respondent would have been aware of the Complainant’s well-known CHEVROLET trade mark at the time the disputed domain name was registered. The website at the disputed domain name has been set up to provide links to websites of the Complainant’s competitors, no doubt on a “pay per click” basis. Applying the comments of the panel in L’Oreal, Biotherm, Lancôme Parfums et Beauté & Cie v. Unasi, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-0623, the Panel therefore finds that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site (and hence divert Internet traffic) by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.
Accordingly the Panel finds that the Complainant has established element 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 <chevroletfinancial.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: February 8, 2011