World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Ryder Cup Europe LLP v. Jack Gardner / Svend Design, Svend Filby

Case No. D2011-0494

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Ryder Cup Europe LLP of Virginia Water, Surrey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Max Bitel Greene LLP, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Respondent is Jack Gardner / Svend Design, Svend Filby of Hingham, Massachusetts, United States of America and of Gilford, New Hampshire, United States of America, respectively.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> is registered with FastDomain, Inc. (hereafter the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 16, 2011. On March 17, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 18, 2011, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Jack Gardner was 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 amendment to the Complaint on March 21, 2011. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 March 21, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 10, 2011.

On March 28, 2011, the Registrar first contacted the Center concerning a “discrepancy in the registrant information that [the registrar] had listed for this domain”. In reply to a request for clarification by the Center, the Registrar informed the Center that after checking the “original transaction from when the domain was originally registered”, the Registrar “found the name Svend Filby on the transaction”. The Registrar thereafter “processed a record update” and informed the Center. Following subsequent communications between the Center and the Registrar, the Registrar on March 30, 2011, confirmed “Svend Filby” as the holder of the disputed domain name and further confirmed the disputed domain name to be administratively locked.

The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 31, 2011, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed a further amendment to the Complaint on April 6, 2011.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendments to 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 April 6, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 26, 2011. The Respondent “Svend Filby” submitted and email communication on April 6, 2011.

The Center appointed Christopher J. Pibus as the sole panelist in this matter on May 5, 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 organizes a professional golf tournament called the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup formally began in 1927, and initially took place every four years and most recently every two years. Except for the suspension from 1939 – 1945 during World War II, the only other interruption of the Ryder Cup was the re-scheduling of the tournament after the events of September 11, 2001.

The Ryder Cup tournament features two teams comprised of professional golfers, representing the United States of America and Europe. The Ryder Cup takes place at a venue located in either America or Europe, depending on whether Team Europe or Team America is hosting the Ryder Cup on a particular year. The Ryder Cup took place in Ireland in 2006.

The Ryder Cup is named in honour of Samuel Ryder who commissioned and designed the gold chalice that is awarded to the winning team.

The Ryder Cup tournament is very popular with professional golf players and fans around the world. It is considered one of the top professional golf tournaments, on par with The Masters and perhaps surpassing its popularity.

The Respondent operates a business which offers for sale golf tours, golf packages and runs a variety of golf competitions. The Respondent uses the business name Rydercup Ireland, and claims to specialize in Ryder Cup format matches between United States and Irish Clubs. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> on July 1, 2010. The Respondent’s disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com>, as of November 9, 2010, reverted to a website which featured travel agency services to Ireland, and golf tournament organizing services under the name Ryder Cup Ireland. At the time the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name reverted to a parking page which directed Internet users to the Respondent’s website <www.golfirelandnow.com>. The Respondent’s website at <golfirelandnow.com> offers the same type of travel agency and golf tournament organizing services, as the former website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant owns the trademark RYDER CUP, registered as Community Trademark Registration No. 4512349. The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> which is identical to the Complainant’s registered trademark, except for the addition of the geographical designation “Ireland”. The addition of the word “Ireland” does not prevent the disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> from being confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.

Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant submits that the Respondent cannot have any rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, because the Complainant has exclusive rights to the trademark RYDER CUP and the Respondent has no business relationship with the Complainant. The Respondent was never licensed or otherwise authorized to use the Complainant’s trademark. Further, the Respondent is not making a bona fide use of the disputed domain name, and has used the disputed domain name in connection with a website which provides travel agency and golf tournament organizing services, which are identical and directly competitive to the Complainant’s services.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith for the following reasons: (i) the Respondent is using the confusingly similar domain name in association with the operation of a website which provides travel agency and golf tournament organizing services which are identical and in direct competition to the Complainant; (ii) the Respondent is using a confusingly similar domain name to mislead Internet users into believing that there is an affiliation or an endorsement from the Complainant of the Respondent’s services; (iii) the Respondent changed the website that the disputed domain name reverted to after it was put on notice by the Complainant, and the disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> now reverts to a parking page which re-directs internet users to a new website at <golfirelandnow.com>, which offers the identical services and still refers to the Complainant’s Trademark; and (iv) the Respondent is thereby preventing the registered trademark owner from obtaining and using the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed, the Complainant must establish each of the following elements:

(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest 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 Panel finds that the Complainant does have trademark rights in the mark RYDER CUP by virtue of Community Trademark Registration No. 4512349.

The Panel further finds that the disputed domain name <rydercupireland.com> is identical to the Complainant’s registered trademark RYDER CUP, except for the addition of the word “Ireland”. The addition of a geographical designation does not serve to distinguish a domain name from a registered trademark, particularly when that designation has a meaningful connection to the subject matter (services or wares) used in connection with the registered trademark.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel notes that the Respondent did not file any response to the Complaint and accordingly did not contest any of the facts stated in the Complaint. The Panel is therefore prepared to accept the Complainant’s contention that its RYDER CUP trademark and corresponding golf tournament is well-known and has developed a significant reputation.

Therefore, the Panel is prepared to infer that the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s trademark and golf tournament when the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in 2010. In fact, the Respondent Filby’s website (Annex 6 to the Complaint) states “my wife (…) suggested I should focus on something like that tournament I look forward to every year. What she was referring to was a Ryder Cup match”. The Respondent Filby admitted in his own website dated November 9, 2010, that he knew about the Complainant’s golf tournament and trademark rights.

The Panel finds no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the name RYDER CUP, or that he was licensed or authorized by the Complainant to use the trademark RYDER CUP, or has any other form of legitimate interest in the RYDER CUP name.

The Complainant has therefore satisfied the requirements under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel, upon review of the evidence filed in the Complaint, and taking into consideration that the Respondent did not file any response contesting the facts contained therein, finds that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Panel notes that the Ryder Cup tournament is very well-known among golfers and golf fans around the world. The Ryder Cup is considered to be one of the top sporting events in the golf schedule, and is closely followed by a whole range of sporting enthusiasts and fans.

The Panel finds that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark rights when he registered a confusingly similar domain name, and when began operating a website in connection with that confusingly similar domain name which provides travel agency and golf tournament organizing services which are identical and in direct competition to that of the Complainant’s services.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirements under paragraph 4(c) under the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <rydercupireland.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Christopher J. Pibus
Sole Panelist
Dated: May 19, 2011

 

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