World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Unum Group v. Mr Rowcliffe

Case No. DCO2011-0023

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Unum Group of Portland, Maine, United States of America, represented by Husch Blackwell LLP., United States of America.

The Respondent is Mr Rowcliffe of Blackpool, Lancashire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <unum.co> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 6, 2011. On April 7, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 7, 2011, Network Solutions, LLC 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 April 14, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response on May 4, 2011. The Response submissions were filed with the Center on April 15, 2011, April 18, 2011, and May 3, 2011, respectively. A Supplemental Filing from the Respondent was received by the Center on May 5, 2011.

The Center appointed Alistair Payne, Tony Willoughby and Jonathan Turner as panelists in this matter on May 24, 2011. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. Each member of 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 Unum Group is a publicly traded insurance company which insures 25 million people worldwide and serves over 170,000 businesses in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom. It owns various trade mark registrations worldwide for its UNUM word mark including registered trade mark number 3, 389, 5693 in the United States and in Europe it owns Community Trade Mark Registration 5,857,271. The Complainant or its predecessors have advertised and marketed under the UNUM name or mark since 1984 and operate websites at “www.unum.com” and “www.unum.co.uk” .

The Respondent is an individual based in the United Kingdom. The Disputed Domain Name was registered on July 20, 2010.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant submits that it owns registered trade marks for its UNUM mark as set out above and that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to its UNUM trade mark.

It submits that the Respondent has no rights to the mark UNUM, and is not commonly known by that name or mark. Further it says that although the Disputed Domain Name currently resolves to a website that contains the legend “This Account has been suspended”, it formerly resolved to a website that contained advertisements linking to websites of other insurance-related companies that were competitors of the Complainant. It also says that Respondent added links from the web pages for “www.unum.co/m” and “www.unum.co/uk” to the Disputed Domain Name, which created an association with the Complainant and its web sites at “www.unum.com” and “www.unum.co.uk”. The Complainant says that this amounts to the Respondent having registered the Disputed Domain Name primarily for the purpose of attracting, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site or in order to deprive the Complainant of the Disputed Domain Name and not for any legitimate purpose or non-commercial fair use.

As far as bad faith is concerned the Complainant says that the Respondent’s current passive holding of the Disputed Domain Name, as described above, is in all the circumstances and based on previous panel decisions indicative of bad faith. The Complainant also says that the Respondent’s previous conduct in permitting the website to act as a pay per click website and to contain links to competitors’ websites and also in adding links from the web pages for “www.unum.co/m” and “www.unum.co/uk” to the Disputed Domain Name constitutes evidence of bad faith. In addition the Complainant notes that when it contacted the Respondent to try to resolve the matter the Respondent offered to transfer the Disputed Domain Name for £90,000, which it submits is further evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent says that he registered the Disputed Domain Name purposefully following the conclusion of the 15 week prior rights owner pre-registration period for “.co” domain names as part of his personal protest against the Complainant’s business methods and the manner in which he alleges that the Complainant treated his insurance claim. He says that he has offered to transfer the Disputed Domain Name at no cost to the Colombian Government or to the UN Human Rights Department in order to demonstrate his good faith.

6. Discussion and Findings

The Panel declines to admit the Respondent’s supplemental filing which adds nothing to the three prior communications, which comprise the Response.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant owns various trade mark registrations covering its UNUM mark, including in particular registered service mark number 2077150 in the United States for the word mark UNUM. The key element of the Disputed Domain Name is identical to this trade mark.

Accordingly the Complaint succeeds in relation to the first element of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant says the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name which is identical to its UNUM mark, not for any business or bona fide purpose, or because the Respondent was commonly known by the UNUM name or mark, but rather to deprive the Complainant of the opportunity to register the Disputed Domain Name. In the alternative the Complainant submits that the Respondent’s motivation was to receive remuneration by using it to resolve to a parking site with competitor links, or to sell the Disputed Domain Name at a substantial profit.

The Respondent’s explanation of its motivation is that he registered the Disputed Domain Name in order to protest against the business methods of the Complainant and the way that he feels that he has been treated by the Complainant. However he did not take the opportunity of actually creating a legitimate criticism website at the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant says that he rather permitted it to be used as a parking site featuring commercial links to the Complainant’s competitors and subsequently as a dormant “suspended” site.

The Panel notes that the Respondent did not take the opportunity to refute the Complainant’s contention in this regard. Nor does the Panel consider that the Respondent’s explanation for registering the Disputed Domain Name is credible in the circumstances of his actual use of it. Neither does his assertion that he registered it following the conclusion of the prior rights “sunrise” period assist his case. It is noteworthy that the Respondent provided no evidentiary support for his claim that he had suffered at the hands of the Complainant.

As a consequence the Panel finds that the Respondent has not rebutted the Complainant’s case and that the Complaint succeeds in relation to the second element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

It follows from the discussion set out above that the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and used the Disputed Domain Name without justification and in bad faith. Based on the Respondent’s failure to answer the Complainant’s assertions concerning his use of the Disputed Domain Name, the Panel infers that he purposefully facilitated or permitted the Disputed Domain Name to resolve to a website that featured a parking page with links to the Complainant’s competitors. This only serves to reinforce the Panel’s conclusions as to bad faith.

In addition the Panel notes that the Respondent failed to challenge the Complainant’s allegation that the Respondent had offered to sell the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant for £90,000. This is quite obviously a sum that is vastly in excess of the registration costs of a domain name and another factor reinforcing the Panel’s conclusions as to bad faith.

In these circumstances the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith and as a result the Complaint succeeds in relation to the third element of 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 domain name <unum.co> be transferred to the Complainant.

Alistair Payne
Presiding Panelist

Tony Willoughby
Panelist

Jonathan Turner
Panelist

Dated: June 5, 2011

 

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