World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Rugby World Cup Limited v. Andreas Gyrre

Case No. D2011-1520

1. The Parties

Complainant is Rugby World Cup Limited of Dublin, Ireland, represented internally.

Respondent is Andreas Gyrre of Oslo, Norway, represented by Lenz & Staehelin, Switzerland.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <worldcup2011.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with InTrust Domains, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 9, 2011. On September 9, 14 and 15, 2011, the Center transmitted by e-mail to the Registrar requests for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On September 15, 2011, the Registrar transmitted by e-mail to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 23, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 13, 2011. The Response was filed with the Center on October 13, 2011.

The Center appointed Robert A. Badgley as the sole panelist in this matter on October 20, 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

Complainant is beneficially owned by the International Rugby Board (“IRB”). The IRB was founded in 1886 and is the world governing and lawmaking body for the game of rugby union. Rugby union is played in more than 100 countries. In 1989, the IRB established Complainant and assigned to Complainant all rights in the Rugby World Cup tournament. Since 1987, the Rugby World Cup tournament has been held every four years. The 2011 Rugby World Cup is in New Zealand. It is beyond dispute that the 2011 Rugby World Cup has received a great deal of publicity and is a well-known event.

There are numerous other sports and competitive pursuits which hold “world cup” events. For instance, the FIFA Football World Cup is, as the Complaint appears to concede, the best known “world cup” in the sporting world. In the year 2011, as the Response notes, there are numerous “world cup” events, including: Cricket World Cup 2011, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011, Dubai Racing World Cup 2011, FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011, Dance World Cup 2011, FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011, FIFA World Cup 2011 in Japan, Snowboarding World Cup 2011, and FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011.

The Domain Name was registered on August 7, 2009. According to the Complaint, Respondent Andreas Gyrre has some relationship with Euroteam AS (Euroteam”), a Norwegian company that operates the website to which the Domain Name resolves. Respondent is listed as “Chairman of the Board” on the website. Respondent does not appear to dispute his relationship with Euroteam.

Euroteam’s business includes the sale of tickets to sporting events. The Response states (with emphasis in the original):

The Respondent and Euroteam do not conceal the fact that they intend to take advantage from the descriptive nature of the words “world cup 20-11.” The Respondent is indeed using those words for their descriptive value and not for their trade value. … Respondent and Euroteam are in the legal business of tickets resale.

At the website to which the Domain Name resolves, the following content appears:

<worldcup2011.com> has developed an advanced system for the purchase and sale of tickets in the reseller market. Obtaining tickets to the most popular arrangements has as a general rule been the domain of sponsors and well connected or other important figures. Against the background of many years experience, <worldcup2011.com> has developed a network that enables us to obtain the very best tickets to the most popular and “impossible” arrangements.

Respondent also contends that in many jurisdictions throughout the world, the resale of tickets is a legal and legitimate activity.

Complainant alleges that Respondent’s activity of selling tickets to the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament violates the terms and conditions to which a legitimate ticket purchaser must agree. One such condition is that the purchaser of a ticket must not offer to resell it publicly (including on any website). Respondent asserts in response that he is not an authorized agent of Complainant and hence is not bound by the terms and conditions. (The Panel will not address the merits of these competing arguments.)

Complainant also alleges that the colors and fonts used on Respondent’s website give that site the same “look and feel” as Complainant’s website, thereby underscoring confusion among consumers. Respondent disputes this. Complainant also asserts that Respondent’s website does not adequately disclaim any affiliation with Complainant. Respondent disputes this as well, stating that its website disclaims affiliation with Complainant. Complainant has also offered evidence that Internet users mistakenly believed, to their detriment, that Respondent’s website was an official site for the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament, and that purchasers of tickets through Respondent’s site might have run the risk of having their tickets canceled.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The salient arguments of Complaint, at least insofar as they are germane to the Panel’s disposition of this case under the Policy, are set forth above or will be taken up in the “Discussion and Findings” section below.

B. Respondent

The salient arguments of Respondent, at least insofar as they are germane to the Panel’s disposition of this case under the Policy, are set forth above or will be taken up in the “Discussion and Findings” section below.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Domain Name:

(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) 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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainant clearly holds rights in the registered marks RUGBY WORLD CUP and RUGBY WORLD CUP 2011. The next issue under this head is whether the Domain Name is confusingly similar to these marks. The Panel concludes that the Domain Name may be somewhat similar to these marks, but not confusingly so. As Respondent emphasizes, the element of the marks which dominates them and sets them apart from other marks including the term “world cup” is the word “rugby.” This word is lacking in the Domain Name.

Paragraph 1.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0) states in relevant part:

Application of the confusing similarity test under the UDRP would typically involve a straightforward visual or aural comparison of the trademark with the alphanumeric string in the domain name. While each case must be judged on its own merits, circumstances in which a trademark may not be recognizable as such within a domain name may include where the relied-upon mark corresponds to a common term or phrase, itself contained or subsumed within another common term or phrase in the domain name (e.g. trademark HEAT within domain name <theatre.com>).

Some panels incorporate a somewhat more holistic approach to confusing similarity, as paragraph 1.2 of WIPO Overview 2.0 also recognizes:

Some panels have additionally required that, for a domain name to be regarded as confusingly similar to the complainant's trademark, there must be a risk that Internet users may actually believe there to be a real connection between the domain name and the complainant and/or its goods and services. Such panels would typically assess this risk having regard to such factors as the overall impression created by the domain name, the distinguishing value (if any) of any terms, letters or numbers in the domain name additional to the relied-upon mark, and whether an Internet user unfamiliar with any meaning of the disputed domain name seeking the complainant's goods or services on the world wide web would necessarily comprehend such distinguishing value vis-à-vis the relevant mark.

Whether applying the basic approach alone or the more holistic approach to the case at hand, this Panel arrives at the same conclusion – there is not confusing similarity here, chiefly because the Domain Name lacks the word “rugby.”

There are many “world cup” events in the sporting and competitive world. As Respondent notes, looking at the year 2011 alone, there are numerous “world cup” events, including: Cricket World Cup 2011, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011, Dubai Racing World Cup 2011, FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011, Dance World Cup 2011, FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011, FIFA World Cup 2011 in Japan, Snowboarding World Cup 2011, and FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011. There has been no evidence presented in this record that the Rugby World Cup is so much more famous than other world cups that a reference to “world cup 2011” necessarily, or even probably, calls to mind Complainant’s mark. In the Panel’s view, an analysis of confusing similarity under the Policy may take account of this context.

Complainant itself concedes that it has no exclusive rights in the unadorned term “world cup” – or even “world cup 2011.” The Panel cannot conclude that the Domain Name <worldcup2011.com> is confusingly similar to the marks RUGBY WORLD CUP and RUGBY WORLD CUP 2011. There are simply too many “world cups” out there for the Panel to find likely confusion between the Domain Name itself and the marks in which Complainant holds rights.

Both parties cite a number of previous decisions under the Policy to support their respective positions. The Panel finds most of those decisions to be distinguishable and not as helpful as the principles set forth in WIPO Overview 2.0. One case cited by Complainant, however, merits some discussion here. In ISL Marketing AG, and The Federation Internationale de Football Association v. J.Y. Chung, Worldcup2002.com, W Co, and Worldcup 2002, WIPO Case No. D2000-0034 (April 3, 2000), the panel found various domain names, such as <worldcup2002.com>, to be confusingly similar to the mark of the complainant in that case. However, the complainant’s mark in that case was WORLD CUP. As such, there was little question that the mark and the domain names in that case were confusingly similar.

In sum, for the reasons mentioned, this Panel finds the absence of the word “rugby” (or other word recognizably evocative of that term) from the Domain Name is fatal to this Complaint under the Policy. This is not to say, of course, that Complainant could not make out some case of infringement, unfair competition, or breach of contract, based on the overall alleged activities of Respondent, in another forum. But such matters are beyond the scope of the Policy.

The Panel finds that this Complaint fails under Policy paragraph 4(a)(i).

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel need not consider the Complaint under this head.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Again, the Panel need not consider the Complaint under this head.

7. Decision

For all the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is denied.

Robert A. Badgley
Sole Panelist
Dated: November 1, 2011

 

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