WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
InterIKEA Systems B.V. v. Michael Huang
Case No. D2004-0908
1. The Parties
The complainant is Inter IKEA Systems B.V., Delft, Netherlands, represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, PC. United States of America (the “Complainant”).
The respondent is Michael Huang, whose last known address is in Singapore (the “Respondent”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name at issue is <wwwikea.com> (the “Domain Name”) registered with Moniker Online Services, LLC (“the Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 2, 2004. On November 2, 2004, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On November 8, 2004, 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 for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), 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 November 9, 2004.
In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5 (a), the due date for the Response was November 29, 2004. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, on December 1, 2004, the Center sent a Notification of Respondent Default to the Respondent notifying him that he had failed to comply with the above-mentioned deadline to submit his Response.
The Center appointed Mayer Gabay as the sole panelist in this matter on December 13, 2004. 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
On the basis of the documents submitted by the Complainant, the following facts can be established:-
This case concerns the Domain name, <wwwikea.com> (hereinafter the “Domain Name”).
The Respondent has not submitted a Response to the Complaint nor a request to extend the deadline for submission of a Response.
Complainant is a well-known retail business, that has been active for many years around the world with stores in many countries selling largely furniture and household items.
The Complainant’s trademark IKEA has been recognized in many countries and in a number of UDRP decisions.
The Complainant has registered <ikea.com> domain name and IKEA
trademarks in many countries.
The Complainant owns over 1200 registrations for IKEA and IKEA variants in more than 70 countries around the world.
In Singapore, where the Respondent appears to reside, the Complainant owns many trademark registrations for the mark IKEA and IKEA & Device mark, all of which were filed prior to Respondent’s Domain Name creation date of June 20, 2003.
“www.Ikea.com” is an active website that refers to local IKEA websites in over 35 countries (including Singapore (“www.ikea.com.sg”, the People’s Republic of China (“www.ikea.com/ms/zh_cn”, the USA (“www.ikea.com/ms/en_us” and others).
The Domain Name in dispute appears in English has a website where furniture and other items are sold. Said website also includes a category of “Furniture Stores”.
While the Respondent has not submitted his Response, it is found that there are sufficient grounds to rule on the Complaint, based upon factual and legal findings that can be established to the satisfaction of this Panel.
5. Applicable Rules
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that Complainant must prove each of the following:-
(i) the domain name at issue is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademark, and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out, by way of example, four circumstances, each of which, if proven shall be evidence of the registration and use of the domain name in bad faith for the purpose of paragraph 4(a)(iii) above.
6. Parties’ Contentions
6.1 The Complainant
In the Complaint, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent has intentionally registered a Domain Name virtually identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s IKEA mark with the aim of misleading consumers and capturing the Complainant’s traffic for Respondent’s own unauthorized monetary advantage.
The grounds for the Complaint are:-
(1) The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the “IKEA” trademarks and domain names in which the Complainant has rights.
(2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Respondent’s trademark.
(3) The Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith in that he has sought to profit from the famous IKEA mark.
(4) The Complainant claims that it has legitimate rights to the IKEA name and registered <ikea.com> domain name and IKEA trademark in Singapore prior to Respondent’s Domain Name registration.
6.2 The Respondent
No Response was submitted by the Respondent to the Center.
7. Discussion and Findings
7.1 Identical or confusingly similar (Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy)
The Domain Name <wwwikea.com> is clearly confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark IKEA.
The Panel accepts the contention that the addition of the letters “www” does not change the substance of the domain name or remove the similarity or confusion with the IKEA trademark. Since the letters “www” (which is the accepted acronym for World Wide Web) are used as a preface to access every website around the world, a reasonable person using the Internet identifies the site with the letters immediately following the letters “www”.
The Complainant’s IKEA mark and a number of related marks were in use prior to the registration of the Respondent’s Domain Name.
7.2 Rights or legitimate interest (Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy)
The Complainant has not licensed or permitted in any manner Respondent’s use of Complainant’s registered trademark IKEA.
There is a commercial activity at the Domain Name which appears to be confusingly similar and competitive with Complainant’s business activities – but without any immediate mention of the company or organization behind those activities.
Thus there is no direct connection to the Domain Name and Complainant’s mark IKEA.
By his failure to respond to the Complaint, the Respondent has not indicated any legitimate right or claim to the name whatsoever.
In view of the above, it can be concluded that the goal of the Respondent’s registration was to intentionally attract internet users interested in the Complainant’s website for the Respondent’s own commercial gain.
7.3 Bad faith (Paragraphs 4(a)(iii) and 4(b)(iv) of the Policy)
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy establishes that there is evidence of bad faith if the disputed domain name is registered under circumstances indicating that the registration was done as an “attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website 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 website or location or of a product or service on your website or location”.
The Respondent’s Domain Name was registered on June 20, 2003, after the Complainant’s marks and name had already enjoyed wide use for an extended period.
As discussed in 7.1 above, the Respondent’s Domain Name is almost identical and certainly confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
The Respondent’s Domain Name is simply the addition of “www” to the Complainant’s mark IKEA.
Not only does it appear that the Respondent intentionally created confusion but by registering the misspelling the Respondent impacted negatively on the Complainant’s website. If the Respondent’s Domain Name did not exist then Internet users would receive a message that no such web address could be accessed. In this case it is reasonable to suppose that many web users would quickly correct their mistake by removing the “www” or adding a “.” after the “www” and access the Complainant’s site. However by misdirecting the consumer, the Respondent distracts and delays the consumer from his pursuit of the service being offered by the Complainant. Further the Respondent confuses the Internet user with the possibility that there is a connection between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s business.
While it is not the role of this Panel to assess the effects on the Complainant of Domain Name the obvious negative impact of the Domain Name to the Complainant’s business are further indications of bad faith on the part of the Respondent. The Respondent’s activities have the obvious potential for a number of negative effects on the Complainant’s business, including: 1. Diminishing access to the Complainant’s website; and 2. Creating confusion between the Complainant’s commercial activities and those of the Respondent. A reasonable person may conclude that an unwanted association with a competitive websites can impact unfavorably on the Complainant’s business and good name.
In light of the above, the Panel finds that by having registered the Domain Name, the Respondent has infringed a prior trademark right and it should be held that the Respondent acted in bad faith.
7.4 In summary
The Panel finds that the Domain Name <wwwikea.com> at issue is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark IKEA, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and the Domain Name has been registered and used in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraph 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <wwwikea.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: December 21, 2004