The Complainant is Swedbank AB, Stockholm, Sweden, represented by Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is Park HyungJin, GimHaeSi, Republic of Korea.
The disputed domain name <svedbank.com> is registered with Domaintimemachine.com LLC.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 2, 2008. On October 3, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Domaintimemachine.com LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On October 3, 2008, Domaintimemachine.com 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”), 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 7, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 27, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on October 29, 2008.
The Center appointed Edoardo Fano as the sole panelist in this matter on November 6, 2008. 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.
The language of the proceeding is English, being the language of the Registration Agreement.
The Complainant is Swedbank AB, one of the world's leading financial institutions.
Among others, the Complainant is the owner of the following trademark registrations:
- International registration for SWEDBANK and device No. 900687;
- International registration for SWEDBANK No. 884888;
- Community registration for SWEDBANK No. 004897567.
The Complainant provided evidence in support of the above-mentioned trademark registrations.
The Complainant's trademark rights in the word “swedbank”, mainly associated with financial services, date back to 2006.
The Complainant also owns numerous domain names for the denomination “swedbank”, under both generic and country codes TLDs.
The disputed domain name was registered on May 29, 2008. It presently points to a “domain parking” webpage. As evidenced by Annexes to the Complaint, on September 26, 2008, the website displayed advertising links to websites, mainly promoting and/or offering, among others, financial services and offered the disputed domain name on sale.
The Complainant states that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark SWEDBANK.
Moreover, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since the Respondent is neither an authorized licensee of the Complainant, nor otherwise authorized to use the trademark SWEDBANK, nor does the Respondent's name relate to the trademark or the disputed domain name.
The Complainant further contends that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
It is not likely that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainants' trademark SWEDBANK at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to divert Internet users to third party websites as the Respondent's website displays sponsored links which redirect traffic and potential sales of the Complainant's financial services away from the Complainant.
Moreover, on the same website, the Respondent is offering the disputed domain name on sale.
The Complainant requests the Panel to issue a decision that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions and is in default: no exceptional circumstances explaining the default have been put forward.
A respondent is not obliged to participate in a proceeding under the Policy but if it fails to do so, facts asserted by the complainant may be taken as true and reasonable inferences by the panel, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules (see also Reuters Limited v. Global Net 2000, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0441; Microsoft Corporation v. Freak Films Oy, WIPO Case No. D2003-0109; SSL International PLC v. Mark Freeman, WIPO Case No. D2000-1080; AltaVista Company v. Grandtotal Finances Limited et al., WIPO Case No. D2000-0848; Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe v. Marketing Total S.A., WIPO Case No. D2007-0288).
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three elements, which the Complainant must satisfy in order to succeed:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that the Complainant is the owner of the trademark SWEDBANK both by registration and acquired reputation and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to this trademark.
As the Complainant points out, the replacement of the second letter “w” with a “v” is not enough to exclude a possible confusion not only because these two letters look very similar and are pronounced almost identically in many languages, but also they present a good example of typosquatting. For instance, in Swedish, “Sweden” and “Swedish” are “Sverige” and “Svesk” and, in Italian, they are respectively translated as “Svezia” and “Svedese”.
Moreover, it is well accepted that a top-level domain (in this case “.com”) is to be ignored when assessing identity and/or confusing similarity of a mark and a domain name (see, e.g., VAT Holding AG v. Vat.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0607).
The Complainant has therefore met the burden of proving that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademark, pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
The Respondent has failed to file a Response in accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5.
The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not using the disputed domain name for a legitimate noncommercial or fair use or in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. The Respondent is redirecting Internet users to third parties' websites, taking advantage of the reputation of the Complainant's registered trademark.
The prima facie case presented by the Complainant is enough to shift the burden of proof to the Respondent to demonstrate that it has a right or legitimate interest in the domain name. However, the Respondent has not presented any evidence of any rights or legitimate interests it may have in using the disputed domain name.
The Panel, therefore, finds that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides that for the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent's documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) that by using the disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent's 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 the Respondent's website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent's website or location.
The Panel is of the opinion that the disputed domain name was registered and is used in bad faith. Specifically, the domain name was registered and is used by the Respondent in order to divert Internet users to other websites and offer the domain name on sale.
It is apparent that the Respondent is aware of both the Complainant and its use of the trademark SWEDBANK in respect of financial services. In fact the disputed domain name incorporating the Complainant's trademark is the URL of a website with many sponsored links to financial services.
The Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name for the purposes of commercial gain, by either offering links to other companies' websites related to financial services, in the form of a “click-through” website, or selling the disputed domain name itself.
In similar cases, many prior panel decisions have recognised that the registration of domain names to be put on sale or used in a “click-through” website has to be considered as an evidence of bad faith (see, e.g. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co. v. Digi Real Estate Foundation., WIPO Case No. D2007-0440; Early Times Distillers Company v. IP Admin / DNAV ASSOCS, WIPO Case No. D2007-1812; HBOS Plc v. Whois Protection, WIPO Case No. D2007-1605).
Considering the above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has presented sufficient evidence to satisfy its burden of proof with respect to the issue of whether the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Panel, therefore, finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied.
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 <svedbank.com> be transferred to the Complainant, namely to Swedbank AB.
Dated: November 11, 2008