WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Vodafone Group Plc v. TurnCommerce, Inc. DBA NameBright.com / Zhenhua Bin
Case No. D2014-0504
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Vodafone Group Plc of Newbury, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ("United Kingdom"), represented by Olswang LLP, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is TurnCommerce, Inc. DBA NameBright.com of Denver, Colorado, United States of America / Zhenhua Bin of Yuexiu, Guangzhou, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <vodafonewallet.com> is registered with TurnCommerce, Inc. DBA NameBright.com (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on March 28, 2014. On March 31, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 3, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on April 4, 2014 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on April 4, 2014.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 9, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 29, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on April 30, 2014.
The Center appointed Michael Spence as the sole panelist in this matter on May 9, 2014. 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 Respondent contacted the Center and the Complainant regarding this matter by email on May 10, 2014. The contents of this communication are quoted in full in section 5.B below.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is one of the largest mobile communications companies in the world with a market capitalization of approximately GBP 108.1 billion. It operates under the trade mark VODAFONE and associated marks, which together constitute one of the most recognized brands in the world. The Respondent is the proprietor of the disputed domain name but has neither yet made any use of it, nor any apparent preparations for its use, other than for a "parking" website containing links to websites including some offering services in competition with those of the Complainant.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its trade marks; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions. However, on May 10, 2014 the Respondent sent an email to the Center and the Complainant stating: "I am sorry for replying the email late [sic], I can transfer the domain without any additional condition."
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name contains the Complainant's trade mark in its entirety. The addition of the common term "wallet" does nothing to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant's mark. There is therefore no doubt that the possibility for confusion exists, and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the mark.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is for the Complainant to establish, at least prima facie, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name (Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455; Belupod.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o. WIPO Case No. D2004-0110). Use for a web site redirecting Internet users to sponsored links, including those of competitors of the Complainant, cannot constitute use sufficient to establish rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that the Respondent has ever used, or made preparations to use, the disputed domain name in any other way. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine what legitimate use might be made of a domain name entailing such a very strong likelihood of confusion with a well-known brand.
Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent's unconditional offer to transfer of May 10, 2014 is evidence that even the Respondent itself recognizes that it lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Use for the purpose of redirecting Internet users to sponsored links, including those of competitors of the Complainant is perhaps the most classic case of registration and use in bad faith. The evidence that the Respondent intended to profit from confusion between the Complainant's trade mark and the disputed domain name is strong because the sponsored links include those of the Complainant's competitors.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the UDRP Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <vodafonewallet.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 24, 2014