WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

LeoVegas Gaming Ltd. v. Whoisguard, Inc., Whoisguard Protected / Michael Shneier, Mshneier LLC

Case No. D2016-0732

1. The Parties

The Complainant is LeoVegas Gaming Ltd. of Sliema, Malta, represented by Baker & McKenzie Advokatbyrå KB, Sweden.

The Respondent is Whoisguard, Inc., Whoisguard Protected of Panama, Panama / Michael Shneier, Mshneier LLC of Rose Bay, Australia.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <leovegasonline.com> is registered with eNom, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 13, 2016. On April 13, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same date 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 14, 2016 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 15, 2016.

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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on April 19, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 9, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 10, 2016.

The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on May 20, 2016. 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 a company incorporated under the laws of Malta. It is a provider of online gaming and casino services.

The Complainant is the owner of Community Trade Mark number 011663705 for a figurative mark comprising a lion head design and the term “LeoVegas.com”, registered on July 23, 2013 in Classes 9, 38 and 41. The Complainant is also the owner of Community Trade Mark number 014583355 for the word mark LEOVEGAS registered on January 18, 2016, but with a filing date of September 23, 2015, also in Classes 9, 38 and 41.

The disputed domain name was registered on December 4, 2015.

According to evidence filed by the Complainant, the disputed domain name has resolved to a website promoting a Swedish musical band named “Lars Vegas Trio”.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant states that it and its associated companies have been registered under names including the term “Leo Vegas” since 2011. It states that it provides betting and casino services under a licence from the British Gambling Commission and launched its website at “www.leovegas.com” in January 2012. The Complainant submits that the site has grown rapidly, offering over 350 different gaming types. The Complainant produces media coverage of awards and honours including industry awards for “Best Casino” and “Best Innovation in Casino” in 2013.

The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which it has rights. It contends that the disputed domain name consists of the whole of its trademark LEOVEGAS together with the descriptive term “online”, which only increases the likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark since the Complainant’s services are offered online.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It states that it has never licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its mark LEOVEGAS, that the Respondent has no independent trademark rights in that name and that it has not commonly been known by the disputed domain name. The Complainant denies that the Respondent has used or made preparations to use the disputed domain name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services or that it has made any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no connection with the musical band “Lars Vegas Trio” and that there is no reason in any event why the disputed domain name should be used in connection with the name of that band. The Complainant contends that the content of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves has simply been copied by the Respondent from the band’s own website at “www.larsvegastrio.com”.

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The Complainant states that its trademark LEOVEGAS is an invented name and that it is unlikely that the Respondent would have registered the disputed domain name without knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark. The impression is reinforced by the addition of the term “online” which is well known as the manner in which the Complainant provides its services. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered other domain names corresponding to established gaming brands. The Complainant submits that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling it to the Complainant for consideration in excess of its out-of-pocket expenses (paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy) or to use the Complainant’s reputation and market position in order to drive traffic to its own website (paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).

The Complainant seeks a transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to succeed in the Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are:

(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Even in a case such as this where the Respondent has not contested the Complaint, it is still necessary for the Complainant to establish that all of the three above elements are present.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has established that it is the owner of registered trademark rights in a figurative mark including the term “LeoVegas.com” and a word mark LEOVEGAS. It has also provided evidence to the satisfaction of the Panel that its services provided under the LEOVEGAS name and mark, including the services provided at its website at “www.leovegas.com”, are widely recognized in the online gaming and casino sector.

The disputed domain name consists of the whole of the term “leovegas”, the term “online” and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” which is typically to be disregarded for the purpose of assessing confusing similarity. In the view of the Panel, the inclusion of the descriptive term “online” fails to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s mark LEOVEGAS and, in fact, merely adds to the likelihood of confusion in circumstances where the Complainant provides its services online.

The Panel therefore determines that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel finds that the Complainant’s submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. While it was open to the Respondent to answer that case and to make submissions concerning any rights or legitimate interests it claimed to have, whether as contemplated by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise, the Respondent has not participated in this proceeding.

The Panel does not consider that the use of the disputed domain name to link to the content of the “Lars Vegas Trio” website gives rise to any rights or legitimate interests on the Respondent’s part. There is no evidence of any connection between the Respondent and the “Lars Vegas Trio” and no explanation for why the disputed domain name should be used in connection with that band. Indeed, it is the Complainant’s submission, which has not been contradicted, that the Respondent has simply reproduced the content of the band’s own website at a different location.

In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel accepts the Complainant’s evidence that the mark LEOVEGAS is an invented term, and has seen no evidence of any use of that mark in commerce otherwise than to refer to the Complainant and its services. The Panel finds that the Complainant has traded under the name and mark LEOVEGAS since January 2012 from, in particular, its website at “www.leovegas.com” (albeit that its trademarks were registered later) and infers in all the circumstances that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when it registered the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has failed to offer any explanation for its choice or its use of the disputed domain name. The Panel finds on balance that, in view of the combination of the Complainant’s trademark LEOVEGAS with the descriptive term “online”, Internet users are likely to assume that the disputed domain name is operated by or with the authority of the Complainant and that the registration and use of the disputed domain name constitute an impersonation of the Complainant. The Panel is unable to conceive of any use that the Respondent could legitimately make of the disputed domain name.

The Panel also finds that the Respondent’s reproduction of the “Lars Vegas Trio” website content is inherently deceptive and was most likely intended by the Respondent misleadingly to suggest that there was some bona fide purpose to the disputed domain name.

The Panel concludes that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of taking unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill attaching to the Complainant’s trademark LEOVEGAS. In all the circumstances, the Panel considers it unnecessary to determine precisely which sub-paragraph of paragraph 4(b) of the Policy is most apt in this particular case.

The Panel finds accordingly that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

7. Decision

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 <leovegasonline.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Steven A. Maier
Sole Panelist
Date: May 24, 2016