WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Virgin Enterprises Limited v. Hildegard Gruener
Case No. D2017-0429
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Virgin Enterprises Limited of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ("United Kingdom"), represented by Stobbs IP Limited, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Hildegard Gruener of Vienna, Austria.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <virginmoney-com.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on March 2, 2017. On March 2, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 3, 2017, 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on March 6, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 26, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on March 28, 2017.
The Center appointed Gunnar Karnell as the sole panelist in this matter on April 3, 2017. 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 disputed domain name <virginmoney-com.com> was registered on August 6, 2015 and the registration was updated on August 11, 2016. The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was previously being used in relation to financial services, and that there were pay-per-click links as well as the Complainant's logo. The disputed domain name is currently inactive.
The Complainant (habitual abbreviation "VEL") is the brand owner of the Virgin Group of Companies presently acting in a wide variety of businesses comprising over 200 companies worldwide operating in 32 countries including in the United States of America and various countries in Europe with employees in excess of 40.000 and an annual turnover in excess of GBP 4.6 billion. The VIRGIN brand is commonly used together with an additional element, e.g. as in VIRGIN MEDIA; VIRGIN GAMES etc.
The Complainant also owns inter alia the trademarks VIRGIN and VIRGIN MONEY respectively registered in the European Union (Trademark No. 000217182) on September 4, 1998 and in the United Kingdom (Trademark No. 2177329) on May 21, 1999.
5. Parties' Contentions
A written statement, referred to in the present proceeding by the Complainant, sets out the history, use and public acquaintance with its VIRGIN and VIRGIN MONEY trademarks and related business. VIRGIN MONEY is a well-known brand worldwide that can have no other reference than to the Complainant's brand.
The disputed domain name is identical and confusingly similar to substantial numbers of VIRGIN and VIRGIN MONEY trademarks in which the Complainant has rights, registered in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union and a number of other jurisdictions, registrations predating the registration of the disputed domain name.
The Complaint contains reference to a considerable number of "typographical error domains" which have over time been transferred to the Complainant and in which confusion has been seen to consist in relation to domain names comprising virgin and an additional element, such as – in the present case - the ".com", together with the joining together of the "virgin" and the "money" elements.
The Respondent, not having legitimately registered the disputed domain name and not using it in relation to a bona fide offering of goods or services, has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name or the words contained therein.
The disputed domain name was registered and it is being used in bad faith. It appears to have been registered primarily for the purpose of transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant or to any of its competitors or in order to prevent the Complainant to reflect its trademark VIRGIN MONEY in a corresponding domain name or simply for creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's trademarks, thereby disrupting the business of a competitor. Also, the Respondent may reasonably have surmised that the Complainant would come to know about the registration of the disputed domain name, so as to expect an offer to purchase it from the Respondent for more than out-of-pocket costs. The Respondent has been found to be associated with 1,167 other domain names, including e.g. <barclays.com>, showing a pattern of conduct in registering domain names which correspond with third parties' trademarks. The Respondent also appears to have registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its VIRGIN MONEY mark in the disputed domain name. Furthermore, by using the disputed domain name the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain users of Internet to the website or other online location, creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website or location or of a product or service on the website or location. A screenshot of the Respondent's website also shows its use of the Complainant's VIRGIN MONEY logo, as used by the Complainant for many years in association with its VIRGIN MONEY business.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The factual foundation of the Complainant's contentions, as presented in great detail by the Complainant, while supporting its uncontradicted claim by written evidence and ample reference to a number of earlier UDRP case decisions, allows the Panel to deal summarily with the case.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel, disregarding the minor differences between the disputed domain name and trademarks adduced in comparison in evidence of the Complainant's rights, finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a substantial number of trademarks in which the Complainant has rights and which have been registered well before the registration of the disputed domain name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out the first limb of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has, based on its contentions as summarized at 5.A. above, established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and there has been no rebuttal by the Respondent. Nothing in the record gives reason to believe that the Respondent has or has had any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out the second limb of the Policy and 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 finds no indication on the record that might refute the Complainant's uncontested assertions regarding the facts leading up to its conclusions that the disputed domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has made out the third limb of the Policy and that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
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 <virginmoney-com.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 9, 2017