WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Automobile Club di Brescia v. Internet Technologies Group, Inc.
Case No. D2015-0745
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Automobile Club di Brescia of Brescia, Italy, represented by dotNice Italia srl, Italy.
The Respondent is Internet Technologies Group, Inc of Watertown, Massachusetts, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <millemiglia.com> is registered with CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH dba Joker.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 24, 2015. On April 24, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 27, 2015, 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 May 1, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 21, 2015. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 22, 2015.
The Center appointed Debrett G. Lyons as the sole panelist in this matter on May 29, 2015. 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 decision in this case are that:
1. the Complainant is the organizer of the Mille Miglia annual car rally and the owner of the trade mark MILLE MIGLIA which has been used in relation to that event since 1927;
2. the trade mark is, inter alia, the subject of International Trade Mark Registration No. 555346 from June 23, 1990;
3. the disputed domain name was registered on August 31, 1995;
4. at the time the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name was not in use but was for sale;
5. at earlier points in time the disputed domain name pointed to the Complainant’s official website at “www.millemiglia.it”;
6. 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; and
7. in response to pre-Complaint correspondence from the Complainant’s agent to the Respondent, the Respondent asked USD 25,000 for the disputed domain name and indicated that sale to another prospective purchaser was a possibility.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts trade mark rights in MILLE MIGLIA and alleges that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trade mark.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) The disputed domain name is 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 name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
It is the responsibility of the Panel to consider whether the requirements of the Policy have been met, regardless of the fact that the Respondent failed to submit a reply. Having considered the Complaint and the available evidence, the Panel finds the following:
i. 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 Policy. The Complainant provides evidence of registration of the trade mark and the Panel accepts that the Complainant has trade mark rights.
For the purposes of testing confusing similarity, the generic Top-Level Domain “.com” can be ignored and so the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s trade mark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
ii. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has the burden to establish that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. 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 interests1 .
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 identifying the Respondent as registrant does not support any conclusion that the Respondent might be commonly known by the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that the Respondent has trade mark rights in the disputed domain name, registered or not. The disputed domain name is open to offers to purchase it and has been plainly advertised for sale in the past.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, 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 name and so the Complainant has satisfied the second element of the Policy.
iii. 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;
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.”
It is plain from the Respondent’s own actions and statements that its conduct falls squarely under paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy. The disputed domain name is for sale. When approached to sell the name, it asked USD 25,000 being a sum far exceeding out of pocket registration and maintenance costs. Further, the Respondent stated that another was also interested in purchasing the name. Whether that claim was true or not, it matters none as it shows that the Respondent’s primary motivation was to sell the disputed domain name to the Complainant or a competitor2 of the Complainant.
The Panel finds that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith and, accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the third and final limb of the Policy.
The Panel is of the view that something should be said of the Complainant’s conduct. In particular, the Panel notes with concern that there is no explanation in the Complaint as to why these Administrative Proceedings were brought 20 years after registration of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant states that it has been aware of the existence of the disputed domain name since 2011. If that were simply the case then the modest “delay” in bringing these proceeding may have benefited from some explanation. The Panel observes however that the Complainant’s official website resolves from the domain name <millemiglia.it> which was registered to the Complainant in 1998. In any event, the pace at which the Complainant moved to acquire the domain name after becoming aware of it and the timing of its demand letter was laconic.
On the facts before the Panel, there is little doubt that the original registration of the disputed domain name was made in the knowledge of Complainant’s trademark and business. In the absence of a Response and in light of relatively unequivocal evidence of domain name abuse, the Panel finds that there is insufficient reason to further consider principles of laches.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules and with the Complainant’s request, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <millemiglia.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Debrett G. Lyons
Date: June 8, 2015
2 Understanding that word in the liberal sense other panels have given it.