Stanworth Development Limited v. Mike Morgan (290436)
Case No. D2006-0230
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Stanworth Development Limited, Isle of Man, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Bowman Gilfillian Incorporated, South Africa.
The Respondent is Mike Morgan (290436), Newfoundland, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <riverbelleinfo.com> is registered with Spot Domain LLC dba Domainsite.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 23, 2006. On February 23, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to Spot Domain LLC dba Domainsite.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On February 23, 2006, Spot Domain LLC dba Domainsite.com 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 March 9, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 29, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 3, 2006.
The Center appointed Ms. Fleur Hinton as the sole panelist in this matter on April 19, 2006. 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 is the owner of the trademark RIVERBELLE.COM which it uses in relation to the operation and promotion of various online casino and gaming sites. The Complainant’s business under the trademark is run as an international online gaming site. It launched its gaming site in December 1997. The Complainant licenses the trademark to a licensee, Carmen Media Group Limited.
The use which the Complainant makes of its trademark and domain name <riverbelle.com> site is based on the theme of a riverboat casino in which there is a captain in charge, a purser to handle money matters and hospitality in the tradition of the American south.
The Complainant is the registered owner of trademarks incorporating RIVER BELLE in Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States of America. It has a number of pending applications in these and other jurisdictions incorporating RIVER BELLE. It also has in excess of 100 domain name registrations incorporating RIVER BELLE or words very similar to that. Included in these are the domain names <riverbelle.info>, <riverbellecasino.info>, <theriverbelle.info>, <riverbell.info> and <theriverbell.info>.
The Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent on December 15, 2005, and a follow up letter on January 13, 2006. It did not receive a response to either of those letters.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the use by the Respondent of the disputed domain name <riverbelleinfo.com> is use which is either identical with or confusingly similar to its various trademarks and domain names incorporating its trademark RIVER BELLE. The Respondent is using the trademark as a domain name in relation to identical services on the internet. The Complainant has developed a substantial reputation in the trademark over more than 8 years. It contends further that the online gambling market is an international one patronized by consumers all over the world.
The Respondent has not provided any information which could lead to a conclusion that he has some connection with the name or trade mark RIVER BELLE thereby entitling him to use of the name in spite of the various registrations and use which the Complainant has already made of the name. Further, he has no legitimate right to use trademark RIVER BELLE and to claim a connection with the Complainant or the Complainant’s licensee.
The Respondent registered his domain name nearly 8 years after the Complainant registered the domain name <riverbelle.com> and in spite of the substantial reputation which the Complainant had accrued in the trademark during that time. The Respondent’s website contains links to websites other than the Complainant’s. In addition, the Respondent failed to reply to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter and subsequent follow-up.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Panelist makes findings as set out below.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant’s trademark is RIVER BELLE. It is used by the Complainant in a variety of different ways, both as a trade mark and as a domain name. These different uses have become common with the development of the world wide web and internet use. Nevertheless, the core trademark used in all instances by the Complainant is RIVER BELLE.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark RIVER BELLE, being used by the Respondent even if some of these uses also incorporate other material. The Panel also takes note that in the decisions of <cialisinfo.biz ipo> WIPO Case No. D2005-1177, <ambient-information.com>, WIPO Case No. D2005-0770 and <acomplia-information.com>, WIPO Case No. D2005-0661 the panels found that the addition of ‘info’ to a trademark portion of a domain name justified a finding of confusing similarity.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel notes that the Respondent was sent two cease and desist letters and was also sent a copy of this Complaint but has not taken the opportunity to present any argument on his behalf. The Panel finds that the trademark RIVER BELLE is sufficiently distinctive on its merits for the Panel to need to consider the possibility of coincidence.
Since the Respondent was informed of the Complainant’s claims in relation to the trademark and made no attempt to offer any explanation for his adoption of so similar a domain name for use in relation to services of the same description, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The website operated by the Respondent at “www.riverbelleinfo.com” is conducted in the same field of activity as the various websites incorporating the trademark RIVER BELLE operated by the Complainant.
The Panel finds that the trademark RIVER BELLE has no recognized significance in relation to gaming activities except that given it by the Complainant over the last 8 years. The Respondent has not taken the opportunity given him to put an alternative view. In view of the Complainant’s very substantial use of the trademark through a controlled licensee, it can reasonably be inferred that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name intending to profit from the Complainant’s reputation.
Therefore the Panel finds that the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name was in bad faith.
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, <riverbelleinfo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: May 3, 2006