WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc v. Scott Rose
Case No. D2018-0251
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”), internally represented.
The Respondent is Scott Rose of Abertillery, United Kingdom, self-represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ladbrokescoralltd.com> is registered with 1&1 Internet AG (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 6, 2018. On February 6, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 7, 2018, 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.
On February 12, 2018, the Complainant requested a suspension of the proceeding. On the same day, the Center notified the Parties that the proceeding was suspended until March 14, 2018. On March 12, 2018, the Complainant requested to that the proceeding be reinstituted. Accordingly, the Center informed the Parties of the reinstitution of the proceeding.
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 16, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 5, 2018. The Respondent submitted two informal emails on March 16, 2018 and March 19, 2018. The Center informed the Parties on March 19, 2018, that if they wished to explore settlement options, the Complainant should submit a request for suspension. The Complainant did not submit a suspension request. On April 6, 2018, the Center informed the Parties of the commencement of the panel appointment process.
The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on April 16, 2018. 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 Panel issued Administrative Panel Procedural Order No. 1 on April 18, 2018, directing the Complainant to provide further information concerning certain aspects of its case and allowing the Respondent a due opportunity to respond. The Complainant provided a further statement accordingly on April 23, 2018. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s further statement.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a company registered in England. It changed its name to Ladbrokes Coral Group Limited on March 29, 2018. It is an associated company of Ladbrokes International plc (“Ladbrokes International”), a company registered in Gibraltar. It offers betting and gaming services online.
Ladbrokes International is the owner of trademark registrations including the following:
- United Kingdom trademark number 3123147 for the word mark LADBROKESCORAL, registered on November 20, 2015, for numerous classes of goods and services
- European Union Trade Mark number 14496293 for the word mark LADBROKES CORAL, registered on January 11, 2016, for numerous classes of goods and services
The Complainant has produced a letter from Ladbrokes International confirming that the Complainant has been granted rights in, and rights to enforce, the trademarks referred to above.
The disputed domain name was registered on January 21, 2018.
The disputed domain name resolves to a parking page website including pay-per-click links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the brands “Ladbrokes” and “Coral” are two of the most widely known names in the betting and gaming industry, both in the United Kingdom and internationally. It states that the brands were merged in a GBP 2.3 billion deal in 2016 in what was hailed in the press as a “seismic change in the betting industry”. The Complainant states that it has traded as Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc (subsequently Ladbrokes Coral Group Limited) since the date of the merger. It contends that it controls 41 percent of United Kingdom market share, operated 3,664 licensed betting offices in 2016 and generated net revenue of GBP 2.4 billion in that year. The Complainant produces financial reports and copies of press coverage in support of its above contentions.
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the LADBROKESCORAL and LADBROKES CORAL trademarks in which it has rights. It refers to the trademark registrations set out above and submits that the disputed domain name is identical to the trademarks but for the addition of the term “ltd” which designates a limited company.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It submits that the Respondent has no legitimate connection with the Complainant’s trademarks and that he has no intention of using it for the purposes of any bona fide offering of goods or services.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant submits that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name solely for the purpose of extracting the sum of GBP 30,000 from the Complainant in consideration of a longstanding grievance. The Complainant produces a letter from the Respondent dated January 22, 20181 in which the Respondent refers to a press announcement that the Complainant will be re-registered as a private limited company and states that:
“[…] your website www.ladbrokescoralplc.com will indeed need to be changed from PLC to LTD.”
The Respondent continues:
“With that in mind I would like to take the opportunity to inform you that I am the registered owner in which will be your required new domain name www.ladbrokescoralltd.com.”
The Respondent goes on to refer to aspects of his dispute with the Complainant and to previous settlement discussions. He states that he claims a sum in excess of GBP 30,000 and encloses a draft settlement agreement. That draft agreement includes terms, among others, that the Respondent will transfer the disputed domain name and another domain name to the Complainant and that the Complainant will pay the Respondent the sum of £35,000 in full and final settlement of his claims.
The Complainant submits in the circumstances that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling it to the Complainant for a sum in excess of his documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name as contemplated by paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy.
The Complainant originally sought the cancellation of the disputed domain name. However, in its further statement the Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not file a formal Response in this proceeding. However, the Panel notes the contents of the Respondent’s two informal emails referred to above. In the first such email, the Respondent stated among other matters:
“I wish to seek no further involvement with this dispute and I am more than happy for you to transfer over the rights of the domain in question.”
The Respondent refers to a website that he says he has under construction and to a campaign and a publication relating to his grievance against the Complainant.
In the second email, the Respondent protests that the Complainant is unwilling to enter into settlement discussions with him.
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; and
(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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established to the satisfaction of the Panel that it has rights in the registered trademarks LADBROKESCORAL and LADBROKES CORAL. The disputed domain name comprises the whole of the trademarks together with the term “ltd”, which the Panel finds to designate a limited company. In the view of the Panel, the addition of the term “ltd” is not effective to distinguish the disputed domain name from the trademarks in question and the Panel therefore finds that that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In the view of the Panel, the Complainant’s submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case for the Respondent to answer that he has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has stated that he does not wish to be involved in this proceeding and makes no submissions as to any rights or legitimate interests that he may claim to have. Furthermore, there is nothing in the evidence available to the Panel upon which to conclude that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Panel finds in the circumstances that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Based on the identity of the disputed domain name, the timing of its registration, and the content of the Respondent’s letter to the Complainant dated January 22, 2018, there can be no doubt that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s name and trademarks in mind and with the intention of blocking the Complainant from registering the disputed domain name in connection with its change of corporate identity. The Panel finds further that the Respondent sought a payment from the Complainant in excess of GBP 30,000 in settlement of his dispute with the Complainant on terms to include the transfer of the disputed domain name to the Complainant. It is not within the remit of this administrative proceeding to consider the merits of the Respondent’s grievance against the Complainant, but only to consider whether the Complainant’s case under the provisions of the Policy has been established. In this regard the Panel concludes that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling the domain name registration to the Complainant for valuable consideration in excess of his documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name (paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy). The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used 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 <ladbrokescoralltd.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Steven A. Maier
Date: May 2, 2018
1 While the Respondent’s letter is marked “without prejudice”, that designation does not automatically confer privilege under the UDRP. The Panel notes that the Respondent has made no objection to the admission of the document and finds in any event that it is fair and equitable that the document be considered by the Panel.