WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
General Motors LLC v. Star King
Case No. D2012-1929
1. The Parties
The Complainant is General Motors LLC of Detroit, Michigan, United States of America (“US”), represented by Abelman Frayne & Schwab,US.
The Respondent is Star King of Wuhan, Hubei, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <gmtech2.org> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 28, 2012. On October 1, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 3, 2012, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On October 3, 2012, the Center sent a Complaint deficiency notification by e-mail. The Complainant sent an amendment to the Complaint by e-mail on October 3, 2012.
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 October 8, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 28, 2012. On November 2, 2012, the Center extended the due date for Response until November 7, 2012, due to an administrative oversight. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 8, 2012.
The Center appointed Gunnar Karnell as the sole panelist in this matter on November 19, 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 disputed domain name <gmtech2.org> was created on May 17, 2012.
The Complainant has requested that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant, commonly known as GM, is world-renowned as an automotive manufacturing company. It is one of the world’s largest automakers. It is the successor in interest to all trademarks and related goodwill formally owned by General Motors Corporation, founded in 1908. It sells and services vehicles in approximately 157 countries and it manufactures cars and trucks in more than 30 countries; the largest market being China, followed by the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada and Italy. Its trademarks GENERAL MOTORS and GM are among the most well-known trademarks in the world. The Complainant holds rights in GM trademarks in all countries mentioned and in many others, as well as European Community (“EC”) registered trademarks, predating the registration of the disputed domain name for the Respondent. The Complainant’s trademarks have a strong Internet presence and they are widely used in advertising and promotional activities.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark GM. The disputed domain name includes, as its first and dominant element, the trademark GM in its entirety, together with the ordinary English word “tech” and the numeral “2”. These latter do not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the trademark GM. Consumers will assume that a domain name containing the combined letters “gm”, as here first and dominating elements of the disputed domain name, belongs to or is associated with the Complainant. The “gmtech2” part of the disputed domain name suggests an association with the Complainant, because consumers will likely believe that “gmtech2” means the “technology” offered by the General Motors Company for its GM vehicles. The trademark GM has no real meaning in English other than in relation to the Complainant’s goods or services. Hence, the disputed domain name is calculated to confuse or deceive, suggesting that services related to it are those of the Complainant.
To the best knowledge of the Complainant, the Respondent has no rights, by consent, license or else, nor any legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. A cease and desist letter was sent to the Respondent on August 24, 2012, requesting transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant. There was no response. The Respondent does not use the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services. It is currently used in relation to the advertising and offering of services that have not been authorized by the Complainant. The website refers to GM TECH 2 SKILL CAR REPAIR GUIDANCE in respect to numerous vehicles, including but not limited to GM, BMW and Honda. The car repair guidance for GM vehicles has not been authorized by the Complainant. Visitors to the website “www.gmtech2.org” will become confused into thinking that goods and services are those of or associated with the Complainant. The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name, incorporating the well-known Trademark GM to direct visitors to a website unconnected with the owner of the trademark, cannot constitute use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services or otherwise be considered a legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
The disputed domain name has been registered and used in bad faith. The Respondent is likely to have had constructive notice about the existence of the Complainant’s trademark GM at the time when it registered the disputed domain name. The Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the Respondent’s web page by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. It may be inferred that the Respondent intentionally registered the disputed domain name to trade-off the goodwill and reputation of the Complainant. The registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent, having no connection whatever to the Complainant’s trademark GM, amounts to what in a number of UDRP case decisions has been called “opportunistic bad faith”.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The factual foundation of the Complainant’s contentions, as presented by the Complainant, while supporting its non-contradicted request for transfer of the disputed domain name by written evidence and ample reference to earlier UDRP case decisions, leads the Panel to the following conclusions:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name fully incorporates the Complainant’s multi-registered and well- known trademark GM together with the word “tech2”. The latter in the Panel’s opinion does not dispel confusion. The Panel also disregards the gTLD “.org” for purposes of this element of the Policy. The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made evident that it has not licensed or otherwise authorised the Respondent to use its trademark GM. Also, the Respondent does not appear to be commonly known by the disputed domain name and it is evidently not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of it.
The Complainant has established a prima facie case of lack of rights and legitimate interests and there has been no rebuttal from the Respondent. Nothing in the case file gives reason to believe that the Respondent has or has had any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights and no legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the notoriety of the Complainant’s trademark and the use of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its trademark, and that therefore the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in bad faith. Furthermore, the Panel notes that by use of the disputed domain name in connection with a website that appears to offer products for use with the Complainant’s and other competitor’s products, the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4 (b)(iv) of the Policy.
Absent any indication in the case file of elements that might tell against giving credence to the Complainant’s assertions regarding facts leading up to its conclusions that the disputed domain name <gmtech2.org> has been registered and used in bad faith, the Panel confirms that the conditions for transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant are satisfied.
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 <gmtech2.org> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 21, 2012