World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited v. Private Whois Service / Fundacion Private Whois

Case No. D2012-1026

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, represented by Cassels Brock & Blackwell, LLP, Canada.

The Respondent is Private Whois Service / Fundacion Private Whois of Panama.

2. The Domain Name And Registrar

The disputed domain name <canadiantiremastercard.org> is registered with Internet.bs Corp.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 14, 2012. On May 15, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to Internet.bs Corp. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 16, 2012, Internet.bs Corp. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on May 16, 2012, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on May 17, 2012.

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 May 22, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 11, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 15, 2012.

The Center appointed Francine Tan as the sole panelist in this matter on July 3, 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 states that it is the registered owner of numerous Canadian trade mark registrations for the trade mark CANADIAN TIRE and variations thereof (hereinafter referred to collectively as “the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks”). Examples of the trade mark registrations referenced in the Complaint include:

(i) Canadian Trade Mark Registration No. TMA279,853 for CANADIAN TIRE with a claim of use dating from as early as 1927 in association with automative parts, tools, accessories and maintenance and services supplies; operation of a business dealing in the selling of vehicular parts, tools and accessories of others; servicing and maintenance of vehicles; selling of hardware of others; selling of housewares of others,etc;

(ii) Canadian Trade Mark Registration No. TMA291,786 for CANADIAN TIRE in connection with financial credit services provided through the medium of credit card, and auto club services (the operation of an association providing to its members assistance in automotive emergency situations). Use of the mark was asserted therein to have commenced since as early as 1984;

(iii) Canadian Trade Mark Registration No. TMA437,419 for CANADIAN TIRE OPTIONS with a claim of use dating from 1992 in association with the operation of an incentive program in which points redeemable for awards are accumulated by Canadian Tire credit card holders; and

(iv) Canadian Trade Mark Registration No. TMA641,874 for CANADIAN TIRE FINANCIAL SERVICES with a claim of use dating from 2005 in association with providing credit, charge card and related services; providing banking services of others, etc.

The Complainant asserts that it has continuously and extensively used the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks and has established a very valuable reputation and goodwill in association with them.

The Complainant is the registrant of the domain name <canadiantire.ca> which is also the domain name used in relation to its principal website. The Complainant’s website offers more than 21,000 products which include automotive parts, sports and recreation products, home products and tools. These represent the Complainant’s core areas. On average, more than 70,000 individuals a day visit the Complainant’s website. Accordingly, it has been ranked among Canada’s top five busiest e-commerce sites. The Complainant’s website also displays a “Credit Cards” tab which, when clicked, opens a webpage which displays the CANDIAN TIRE trade marks that provides information relating to credit cards offered by the Complainant, including the “Canadian Tire Options MasterCard”, the “Gas Advantage MasterCard” and the “Cash Advantage MasterCard”. Applications for these credit cards can be made via this website.

The Complainant states that there are over 486 retail stores in Canada with an employ of over 50,000 Canadians. These stores are independently owned and operated by Canadian Tire Associate Dealers. The later is licensed to use the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks.

Canadian Tire Financial Services (“CTFS”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Complainant. CTFS is primarily engaged in marketing and promoting the Complainant’s branded financial products and services. CTFS is the parent company of Canadian Tire Bank (“CTB”). CTB issues credit cards including the “Canadian Tire Options MasterCard”. The Complainant states that there are approximately 4 million “Canadian Tire Options MasterCard” cardholders, which card is accepted in over 24 million locations worldwide. CFTS and CTB are also licensed to use the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks.

The Complainant has been a party to a number of UDRP decisions. In the Complaint, it cited 15 cases including: Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited v. Joey Man WIPO Case No. D2006-0671, Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited v. Digi Real Estate Foundation WIPO Case No. D2006-1117, Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited v. Texas International Property Associates WIPO Case No. D2007-1407, and Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited v. kusumaputra, Kusuma Putra WIPO Case No. D2011-0648, in all of which the Complainant was successful.

The disputed domain name was registered on December 4, 2009. The Respondent uses the disputed domain name for its website which displays detailed information about the Complainant and the products and services it offers, particularly those pertaining to credit cards, and also displays a number of the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade marks including CANADIAN TIRE OPTIONS. As evidenced in the annexes to the Complaint, the website at the disputed domain name includes the headings “The Canadian Tire MasterCard – Your Ultimate Financial Solution” and “Find a Better Financial Solution - Submit Your Canadian Tire MasterCard Application” as well as displaying pictures of credit cards.

The Complainant’s representative wrote to the Respondent on February 15, 2011, January 19, 2012 and on April 24, 2012, requesting the transfer of the disputed domain name. The Complainant states that it did not receive any response from the Respondent.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts, first, that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks as it consists of the words “Canadian”, “tire” and “Mastercard”. The only difference between the disputed domain name and CANADIAN TIRE is the addition of the word “Mastercard”.

The Complainant submits that the addition of this word should not receive any weight, particularly since the Complainant offers a MasterCard credit card and a number of the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks are used in association with MasterCard credit cards. Internet users familiar with the MasterCard credit cards offered by the Complainant would expect an association between the disputed domain name and the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks. Reference was made to previous UDRP panel decisions which concluded that domain names consisting of a complainant’s trade mark and a third-party mark are confusingly similar to either trade mark.

Secondly, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed name. On this point, the facts put forward in support are:

(i) that the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade marks have been so pervasive in Canada since 1927 that no other person or entity would legitimately choose an identical or confusingly similar domain name unless they were seeking to create an impression of an association with the Complainant;

(ii) the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks or to apply for or use the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the use of the disputed domain name which is confusingly similar to the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks does not constitute a bona fide offer of goods or services.

Thirdly, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith and this is supported by the fact that it is difficult to conceive of a legitimate use by the Respondent of the disputed domain name in view of the pervasive use of the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks. For the same reason, it is not plausible that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant’s well-known CANADIAN TIRE trade marks. The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is being use with the intention to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion And Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy stipulates that the following elements have to be established by the Complainant:

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

(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 has established it has rights to the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks. The next question to be considered is whether the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade mark. The Panel is of the view that it is. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade mark in its entirety. The additional element “mastercard” in the disputed domain name is a well-known trade mark of a third party. Its incorporation into the disputed domain name does not serve to remove the confusing similarity with the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade mark particularly in the context of this case, as the Complainant (through its related companies) offers the MASTERCARD credit card. The Panel agrees with the Complainant that Internet users would naturally expect an association between the disputed domain name and the CANADIAN TIRE trade marks.

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel is of the view that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant’s mark appears to be a well known mark as a result of its long and pervasive use and this is reflected in the fact that the CANADIAN TIRE trade mark has been the target of many other respondents who have registered domain names incorporating the mark. There is no evidence that the Respondent has engaged in any legitimate business using the CANADIAN TIRE trade mark. It is indeed difficult to conceive any plausible explanation that the Respondent would have been able to offer in respect of its choice of the disputed domain name which comprises a combination of two reputable marks of two different entities, in the absence of consent or licence by the Complainant and evidence of the same by the proprietors of the MASTERCARD trade mark.

In the absence of any response by the Respondent, from which the Panel draws a negative inference, the Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant has submitted that the facts of this case fall within the circumstance encapsulated in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, which constitutes evidence of the registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith:

“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”.

The Panel is persuaded from the evidence submitted that the Respondent has indeed sought to gain commercially by attracting Internet users to its website by causing confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. The Complainant’s mark has been used for a very long time and its reputation appears to be extensive, when one considers the high visitor numbers to the Complainant’s website. The Respondent’s website betrays its knowledge of the Complainant and of the Complainant’s CANADIAN TIRE trade mark and of its products and/or services. There is no legitimacy in the Respondent’s choice and use of the disputed domain name, and its intention cannot be other than to capitalize and profit from the reputation of the Complainant and its trade mark.

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

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 <canadiantiremastercard.org> be transferred to the Complainant.

Francine Tan
Sole Panelist
Dated: July 9, 2012

 

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