WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Statoil ASA v. N/A Alex
Case No. D2013-0713
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Statoil ASA of Stavanger, Norway, represented by Valea AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is N/A Alex of Guangzhou, China.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <statoill.com> and <statoilukmail.com> are registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 18, 2013. On April 18, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 20, 2013, 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.
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 22, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 12, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 15, 2013.
The Center appointed Debrett G. Lyons as the sole panelist in this matter on June 3, 2013. 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 facts relevant to the findings and decision in this case are that:
1. the Complainant is a Norwegian energy provider which provides its services internationally by reference to the trade mark STATOIL;
2. the STATOIL trade mark is registered in countless countries and territories including the Community Trade Mark system where it is the subject of registration number 003657871 from February 10, 2004;
3. the disputed domain names were both registered on March 1, 2013;
4. at the time the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain names were inactive;
5. there has been no commercial or other relationship between the parties and the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the trade mark or to register any domain name incorporating the trade mark.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts trade mark rights in STATOIL and alleges that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the trade mark.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain names in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
It is the responsibility of the Panel to consider whether the requirements of the Policy have been met, regardless of the fact Respondent failed to submit a reply. According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) The disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark 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 names; and
(iii) The disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Having considered the Complaint and the available evidence, the Panel finds the following:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires a two-fold enquiry – a threshold investigation into whether a complainant has rights in a trade mark, followed by an assessment of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trade mark.
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy does not distinguish between registered and unregistered trade mark rights. It is accepted that a trade mark registered with a national authority is evidence of trade mark rights for the purposes of the Policy1. The Panel finds that the Complainant has trade mark rights in STATOIL acquired through registration.
The remaining question is whether the disputed domain names <statoill.com> and <statoilukmail.com> are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark. For the purposes of testing confusing similarity, the generic top-level domain, “.com”, can be ignored.2 The comparisons then reduce to (i) STATOIL with “statoill”, and (ii) STATOIL with “statoilukmail”. In the first comparison the terms are phonetically identical and there is no doubt that they are confusingly similar. In the second case, an English speaker of ordinary intelligence applying normal linguistic rules and lacking awareness of the trade mark would deconstruct the composite expression “statoilukmail” into “stat”, “oil”, “UK” (or, “United Kingdom”) and “mail”. It is more likely than not such a person would interpret the geographical abbreviation “UK” and (within the context of domain name use) the word “mail” as subordinate to the other elements of the composite term and would so regard either “stat” or “stat oil” as the dominant and distinctive part of the term. Compared, the composite term is confusingly similar to the trade mark. In both cases, the Complainant’s trade mark has been wholly incorporated.
The Panel finds the disputed domain names to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy with respect to both disputed domain names.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has the burden to establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Nevertheless, it is well-settled that the Complainant need only make out a prima facie case, after which the onus shifts to the Respondent to rebut such prima facie case by demonstrating rights or legitimate interests3.
Notwithstanding the lack of a Response to the Complaint, paragraph 4(c) of the Policy states that any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate rights or legitimate interests to a domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy:
“(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.”
The publicly available WhoIs database identifies the registrant as “N/A Alex” and so does not support any conclusion that the Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain names. There is no evidence that the Respondent has trade mark rights in the disputed domain names, registered or not.
At the time the Complaint was filed the domain names were not in use in any manner and accordingly, no indication of their use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. There is some evidence that the disputed domain name <statoilukmail.com> had been used to send emails which may have presented themselves as having originated from the Complainant and to the extent that was so, it could not be said that there was any indication of use giving rise to rights or legitimate interests.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names, and that the Respondent in failing to reply has not rebutted such prima facie case.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names and so the Complainant has satisfied the second element of the Policy with respect to both disputed domain names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out circumstances which shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. They are:
“i. circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the 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 that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
ii. you have registered the 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 you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
iii. you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
iv. by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site 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 web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”
The Complainant does not make any sort of compelling case for the application of one or more of those scenarios. Moreover, the limited argument of bad faith use and bad faith registration is premised on a claim that the trade mark is well known.
Nonetheless, there appears to be just enough material before the Panel to enable reasonable inferences to be drawn that the domain names were both registered and used in bad faith. In particular, the evidence of the use of the disputed domain name <statoilukmail.com> to send fraudulent emails which posed as having come from the Complainant is adequate proof that the Respondent knew of and targeted the Complainant’s trade mark and business and is therefore evidence of registration of both domain names in bad faith. In addition, the described use of <statoilukmail.com> is bad faith use for the purposes of the Policy. The fact that the disputed domain name <statoilukmail.com> is currently inactive does not change this last finding.
That leaves only for consideration whether or not the disputed domain name <statoill.com> has been used in bad faith. Whilst there is no evidence before the Panel of any use of that domain name, the consensus opinion of UDRP panellists applying this part of the Policy has followed the reasoning in Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003, which held, broadly, that bad faith use is able to be found even in the absence of actual use when it is clear that any use of the domain name would inevitably result in confusion. That in turn requires proof of a level of reputation in the relevant trade mark. In this case the Panel is willing to find adequate reputation in the Complainant’s STATOIL trade mark to justify application of the Telstra Corporation reasoning since the Complaint makes reference to the Complainant’s international business which employs 21,000 people and which has traded for over 40 years. The Complainant also references earlier UDRP decisions in favour of the Complainant where the reputation of the STATOIL trade mark has been accepted by the panellists.
The Panel finds that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain names in bad faith and, accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the third and final limb of the Policy in respect of both disputed domain names.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that both the disputed domain names <statoill.com> and <statoilukmail.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons
Date: June 17, 2013
1 See State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Periasami Malain, NAF Claim No. 705262 (“Complainant’s registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the trademark, STATE FARM, establishes its rights in the STATE FARM mark pursuant to Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).”); see also Mothers Against Drunk Driving v. phix, NAF Claim No. 174052 (finding that the complainant’s registration of the MADD mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office establishes the complainant’s rights in the mark for purposes of Policy paragraph 4(a)(i)).
2 See Gardline Surveys Ltd v. Domain Finance Ltd., NAF Claim No. 153545 (“The addition of a top-level domain is irrelevant when establishing whether or not a mark is identical or confusingly similar, because top-level domains are a required element of every domain name.”).
3 See, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. v. Entertainment Commentaries, NAF Claim No. 741828; AOL LLC v. Jordan Gerberg, NAF Claim No. 780200.