WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Arnhem Coming Soon B.V. v. Benson and Partner Ltd
Case No. DNL2011-0002
1. The Parties
Complainant is Arnhem Coming Soon B.V. of Arnhem, the Netherlands, represented by Dirkzwager advocaten en notarissen N.V., the Netherlands.
Respondent is Benson and Partner Ltd of Houston, Texas, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <comingsoonarnhem.nl> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with SIDN through webagentur.at internet services gmbh.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 5, 2011. On January 6, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to SIDN a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On January 6, 2011, SIDN transmitted by email 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 Dispute Resolution Regulations for .nl Domain Names (the “Regulations”).
In accordance with the Regulations, articles 5.1 and 16.4, the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 6, 2011. In accordance with the Regulations, article 7.1, the due date for Response was January 26, 2011. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on January 27, 2011.
The Center appointed Wolter Wefers Bettink as the Panel in this matter on February 3, 2011. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panelist has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required to ensure compliance with the Regulations, article 9.2.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is a store located in Arnhem, currently operating under the trade name ‘Arnhem Coming Soon’ and offering the public a variety of fashion by (Dutch) designers and other (Dutch) design products.
Complainant is the holder of the Benelux word trademark COMING SOON for the classes 18, 25, 35 and 42 registered as of January 7, 2008.
Respondent is the holder of the Domain Name <comingsoonarnhem.nl>, registered on February 24, 2009.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Identical or Confusingly Similar
According to Complainant it holds rights in the trading name “Arnhem Coming Soon”, which it has actively used in commerce. In addition, Complainant submits that its ‘historical trading name’ is “Coming Soon Arnhem”. As evidence of use of Coming Soon Arnhem Complainant provided a copy of an extract of the Chamber of Commerce and an article on a Dutch fashion weblog. Complainant is the owner of the trademark COMING SOON in the Benelux.
According to Complainant the Domain Name is identical and therefore confusingly similar to both its historical and its current trading name, since it contains the distinctive elements “coming soon” in the same order. Furthermore, there is confusing similarity with the trademark because according to Complainant the addition of the word “Arnhem” at the end of the Domain Name is irrelevant since Arnhem – a town in the Eastern part of the Netherlands in which Complainant’s store is located – is devoid of any distinctive character.
No Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant states that Respondent is not using the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services because it is offered for sale at a domain name auction site (SEDO) for EUR 450. The website connected to the Domain Name is a pay per click site which according to Complainant further indicates the lack of legitimate interest of Respondent in the Domain Name. Furthermore, Respondent is not commonly known under the Domain Name, does not have intellectual property rights in “Coming Soon Arnhem” and is not making a legitimate non-commercial use of the Domain Name, according Complainant.
Registered or Used in Bad Faith
According to Complainant the fact that the domain is put up for sale at the SEDO website proves that it has been registered or acquired primarily for the purpose of selling it to Complainant or its competitors for valuable consideration in excess of the cost of registration. Furthermore, Complainant points out that due to the registration by Respondent, Complainant is prevented from using the Domain Name, while the Domain Name is being used for commercial gain to attract Internet users to Respondent’s website through the likelihood of confusing with the trade name and trademark of Complainant.
Respondent has not filed a response.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has shown it has rights in the trademark COMING SOON, which is registered in the Benelux as of January 7, 2008. Complainant has also submitted documents evidencing that it has used the trade name Arnhem Coming Soon as of 2008. There is no material evidence of use of Coming Soon Arnhem which Complainant denotes as its ‘historical trade name’. Complainant has submitted a copy of the extract of the Chamber of Commerce, but under Dutch trade name law that is not sufficient to prove rights in a trade name, since these are obtained by actual use of the trade name in commerce.
There is confusing similarity between the trade name Arnhem Coming Soon and the Domain Name, since both contain the same three descriptive words. This conclusion is not altered by the fact that these words are placed in a different order (Arnhem at the beginning in the trade name and at the end in the Domain Name). The Panel therefore does not need to address the similarity of the Domain Name to the trademark in this regard.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to the screenprint of the WhoIs provided by Complainant, the Domain Name was registered on May 31, 2007. That is almost four months before Complainant applied for the trademark COMING SOON and three months before the first registration of Complainant’s company in the Chamber of Commerce. The evidence of the use of the trade name in commerce provided by Complainant does not show any use prior to August 31, 2007, when the company was registered. Therefore, based on the evidence submitted by Complainant, the rights on which Complainant relies in the present dispute do not predate the registration of the Domain Name.
The fact that the Domain Name has been registered before Complainant owned the rights on which it relies in this case, is not in itself decisive, but indicates that Complainant has not yet provided the prima facie evidence that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name, which is required under the Regulations. Such prima facie evidence may for instance exist if Complainant can show that on the basis of its older use and the older reputation of an unregistered mark, identical to the later trademark, Respondent was or should have been aware of Complainant and its mark.
Since Complainant has not provided any documents to that effect while, on the other hand, the documents it has submitted as evidence only show that it has obtained rights well after the date of the registration of the Domain Name, that might normally support a conclusion that Complainant has not provided the required evidence that Respondent does not have an right or legitimate interest of its own in the Domain Name.
However, there is other evidence in the case file presented to the Panel that shows that Respondent registered the Domain Name at a later date. As part of the standard verification procedure, SIDN has informed the Center that “the current registration” was made on February 24, 2009 “through a new registration”. SIDN has confirmed to the Center that this means that the Respondent registered the Domain Name on that date, after a period when the Domain Name was not registered; the earlier date of registration (2007) refers to the first registration as such of the Domain Name. Apparently Complainant did not make use of its option to obtain such information from SIDN before it filed the Complaint.
On the other hand, the evidence that Complainant has provided also shows that at some stage it apparently owned the Domain Name itself. An undated article from “www.elsevier.nl”, submitted by Complainant, gives “www.comingsoonarnhem.nl” as the website of Complainant. The extract from the Chamber of Commerce which Complainant has submitted, contains an entry that comingsoonarnhem.nl is a tradename of Complainant. A Google search on the Internet performed by the Panel has provided another article from “www.elsevier.nl”, dated February 25, 2008, which shows “www.comingsoonarnhem.nl” as Complainant’s website. C.f. Hesco Bastion Limited v. The Trading Force Limited, WIPO Case No. D2002-1038.
In view of all these facts, the Panel finds it remarkable, to say the least, that Complainant has not given any information on its (apparent) historical ownership of the Domain Name and how it could have come to be registered by Respondent.
However this may be. according to Complainant, Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interest in the Domain Name, since the Domain Name is not used for the bona fide offering of goods or services. In this context, Complainant submits that the Domain Name is connected to a parking page containing advertisements, generating income for Respondent. Here again, the Complaint could have benefitted from more complete preparation: in itself, use of the Domain Name for a pay-per-click parking page may be a bona fide use. However, this will be different if the parking page contains advertisements for competitors of Complainant or for competing goods.
Complainant has not submitted that this is the case, but the Panel has noted that the screenprint of the webpage under the Domain Name, submitted as evidence by Complainant, contains advertisements for various fashion websites. As Complainant’s trademark has been registered, inter alia, for clothing and the evidence submitted by Complainant shows that it sells fashion and design articles under the tradename Arnhem Coming Soon in its shop, the Panel is satisfied that the Domain Name is not used for a bona fide offering of goods and services.
Since there is no evidence that Respondent was commonly known by the Domain Name prior to the dispute, nor that it owns any rights in the name ‘Comingsoonarnhem’, while it is not making a legitimate non-commercial use of the Domain Name, the Panel concludes that Respondent does not have an own right to or legitimate interest in the Domain Name.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
Complainant submits that the mere fact that Respondent offers the Domain Name for sale for an amount likely in excess of the out of pocket registration costs is evidence that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Again, this in itself is not sufficient, since Complainant has not provided any evidence indicating that the Respondent knew or should have known of Complainant as such when it registered the Domain Name. However, given the fact that the Domain Name is an unusual combination of (in itself descriptive) words, including the name of the town of Arnhem in the Netherlands, it is likely that Respondent when registering the Domain Name was aware at least of Complainant (and its possible prior use of the Domain Name). In these circumstances, it would have been not inappropriate to expect Respondent to verify whether Complainant had any rights to a name, confusingly similar to the Domain Name. Whether or not Respondent has actually done so, such rights could have easily been found in the appropriate registers, leading the Panel to conclude that under the circumstances of this case, Respondent at minimum turned a blind eye to Complainant’s rights.
This, together with the offer to sell the Domain Name, mentioned above, supports the conclusion that Complainant has met the burden of proof that the Domain Name was registered or is being used in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with articles 1 and 14 of the Regulations, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <comingsoonarnhem.nl> be transferred to the Complainant.
Wolter Wefers Bettink
Dated: March 1, 2011