World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Adam Opel AG v. Parsdata Corporation

Case No. D2012-0130

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Adam Opel AG of Germany, represented by Drzewiecki, Tomaszek & Wspólnicy Spólka Komandytowa of Poland.

The Respondent is Parsdata Corporation of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <opeliran.com> is registered with OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 25, 2012. On January 25, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 29, 2012, OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com 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 February 14, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 5, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 6, 2012.

The Center appointed Lana I Habash as the sole panelist in this matter on March 23, 2012. 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 leading and oldest automobile companies, founded in 1862 in Germany. The company operates in 7 countries, employs around 40,000 employees, sells vehicles into more than 40 markets across Europe and has won many awards. The Complainant is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Company, United States of America and owns Opel Special Vehicles GmbH, which is incorporated in Germany. The Complainant owns all OPEL trademarks (the Complainant and the subsidiary together are hereinafter referred to as “Opel”).

Opel owns trademark registrations for OPEL in many countries including Australia, Austria, Benelux, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Japan, Hong Kong, Norway, Pakistan, India and other countries. Opel has been operating under the trademark OPEL since 1899 and the first international trademark registration was in 1963. Opel also has obtained trademark registrations in Iran since 1950.

The disputed domain name <opeliran.com> was registered on May 14, 2009, and currently resolves to a website that displays the logo of Opel and a picture of the front of an Opel car; the “home” button links to the homepage of the official Opel website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends the following:

The disputed domain name <opeliran.com> fully incorporates the Complainant’s trademark OPEL, which makes it confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark;

The addition of the geographically descriptive term “Iran” is not sufficient to prevent this confusing similarity. In this case, the addition of the term “Iran” creates an impression that the Respondent is a subsidiary of the Complainant in Iran, which is not the case;

The Respondent is not entitled to use the trademark OPEL or the trade name “Opel” and the Respondent is not a partner or representative of Opel in Iran. Further, bad faith on the part of Respondent is emphasized considering that the content of the website includes the OPEL trademark;

The Respondent is not commonly known by the name “Opel” prior to the registration of the disputed domain name;

The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. Given the fame of the trademark, it can be concluded beyond doubt that the Respondent purposefully created a domain name, which consists of a variation of the trademark, with the possible aim to attract Internet users looking for information on the Complainant and to divert them from its legitimate website;

The disputed domain name resolves to a website that links to another web page prompting the products and services of third parties, constituting bad faith;

The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name with the knowledge of the Complainant’s rights in the trade mark OPEL;

The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, considering that at the time of registration, the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant’s trademark, which is known world wide. Further, the fact that the Respondent included the logo of the Complainant’s on the website and used a very similar design supports the presumption of such knowledge.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In order for the Complainant to prevail and have the disputed domain name <opeliran.com> transferred to it, the Complainant must prove the following under the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i-iii):

- The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

- The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

- The disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has demonstrated its rights to the trademark OPEL. The Panel is also satisfied that the Complainant has established the fame of the trademark.

The disputed domain name contains the Complainant’s trademark OPEL in its entirety and adding the name of a country “Iran” to the trademark can be perceived to indicate an attempt to create an impression that the Respondent is a subsidiary or a representative of the Complainant in Iran.

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

According to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, if proved, demonstrate a respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:

(i) the respondent used or demonstrably prepared to use the domain name or corresponding name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services prior to notice of the dispute;

(ii) the respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the domain name, even if it has not acquired trademark rights; or

(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the complainant’s marks.

The initial view of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves suggest that the website belongs to an authorized dealer or a representative of the Complainant’s in Iran, which is not the case as asserted by the Complainant. In particular, the link on the “home” button links to the official website of the Complainant and no disclaimer disclosing to Parties’ relationship appears on the site. Although the Panel could not find the link to the third party websites as contended by the Complainant in the Complaint, that does not vary the view of the Panel in this regard.

Moreover, the Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint supports an inference of a lack of rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name. Accordingly, the Complainant has succeeded in making a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which the Respondent has not rebutted, and as such has satisfied the second element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

“(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”

As discussed under the first element, the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant’s trademark is well-known world wide. Therefore, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent must have had knowledge of the Complainant’s rights in the trademark at the time of registration, particularly noting that the Respondent has added the geographic indicator “Iran” to the Complainant’s trademark, which further supports a finding of registration in bad faith.

Furthermore, and considering the fact that the Respondent has designed the website in such a similar manner to the Complainant’s website and included a picture of an Opel car and used the Opel logo, the Panel concludes that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, possibly to disrupt the Complainant’s business and/or to create the impression that the Respondent is a legitimate representative of the Complainant in Iran.

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith, and as such paragraph 4(a)(iii) is satisfied.

7. Decision

For 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 <opeliran.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Lana I Habash
Sole Panelist
Dated: April 1, 2012

 

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