WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Midea Group Co., LTD v. JUNGYUHKOOK and beats
Case No. D2021-0615
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Midea Group Co., LTD, China, represented by CSC Digital Brand Services Group AB, Sweden.
The Respondent is JUNGYUHKOOK and beats (the Panel will refer to both as the “Respondent”), Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <comidea.com>, <mideaaircon.com>, <mideastore.com>, <pharmidea.com> are registered with Megazone Corp., dba HOSTING.KR (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 1, 2021. On March 1, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On March 8, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a reminder request for registrar verification. On March 9, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondents are listed as the registrants and providing the contact details. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 12, 2021 regarding consolidation. The Center further sent an email communication in both English and Korean to the Parties on March 12, 2021 regarding language of proceedings. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint including its request for language of proceedings on March 15, 2021. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding within the due date.
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 March 22, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was April 11, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 14, 2021.
On April 21, 2021, the Respondent sent an email communication to the Center. On May 21, 2021, the Respondent submitted by email a late Response.
The Center appointed Ik-Hyun Seo as the sole panelist in this matter on April 23, 2021. 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 publicly traded company with its headquarters in China, and was established in 1968. It manufactures a range of home appliance products (i.e. air conditioners, refrigerators, laundry machines, cooking appliances, etc.), has operations in more than 200 countries, and employs approximately 150,000 people. The Complainant’s global revenue in 2019 was over USD 40 billion. The Complainant owns trademark registrations including the term “midea” in various jurisdiction, including in the Republic of Korea (MIDEA, registered on June 2, 2001).
The Respondent appears to be a Korean individual who resides in the Republic of Korea.
The disputed domain names (<mideastore.com>, <mideaaircon.com>, <comidea.com> and <pharmidea.com>) were registered respectively on December 8, 2018, January 30, 2015, May 18, 2009 and November 25, 2012. On or after these registration dates, the Respondent came into possession of the disputed domain names. All disputed domain names resolve to a domain name parking platform, which provides various advertising links.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the MIDEA trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain names. More specifically, the Complainant contends that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain names, and the disputed domain names in no way correspond to the Respondent’s identity or contact details. The Complainant further contends that the use of the disputed domain names merely with domain name parking services does not constitute bona fide use, and also points out that the disputed domain names are currently offered for sale for a minimum offer of USD 300.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain names were registered and used in bad faith. The Complainant notes that the disputed domain names are linked to domain name parking services and advertised for sale, and that the only reason for obtaining them was to improperly profit from their sale or use with parking services. Further, the Complainant points to prior UDRP decisions concluding that the Respondent acted in bad faith, and also identifies a number of other questionable domain names currently held by the Respondent.
The Panel notes Complainant’s contention regarding the consolidation in view of the fact that the disputed domain names were registered under two different names, “JUNGYUHKOOK” and “beats”, but that these share the same contact details (including the phone number and email address). Therefore, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names are subject to a common control, and the consolidation would be fair and equitable to all Parties.
The Respondent failed to file a substantive response before the response deadline. However, a belated Response was submitted shortly before the scheduled decision date. A panelist may in his/her discretion choose to consider or ignore late submissions. In this case, however, the very brief Response will be considered and addressed.
The Respondent claims that “comidea” and “pharmidea” are compound terms coming from the combination of the words “computer” with “idea”, and “pharm” with “idea”, which the Respondent contends it is different from “midea”. The Respondent claims that <comidea.com> was registered in 2009, and <pharmidea.com> was registered in 2012, almost 10 years ago. Finally, the Respondent argues that these disputed domain names are related to an idea about computer and pharm.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Language of the Proceeding
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, subject to the authority of the panel to determine otherwise. In this case, the language of the Registration Agreements is Korean, and both Parties have had an opportunity to argue their position on this point. The Center issued a notice stating that it would preliminarily accept the Complaint filed in English, and that the Response would be accepted in either Korean or English.
Both parties were permitted to present their cases in the language of their preference. The Panel notes that the disputed domain names are composed of Latin characters, and resolve to websites with advertising links in English. The Respondent’s email communication was in English and the late Response included part of the contentions in English. Further, English appears to be the fairest and most neutral language where the Complainant is a Chinese entity and the Respondent is a Korean individual. Under these circumstances, the Panel finds it more appropriate and fair to render this decision in English.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complaint clearly has trademark rights to MIDEA, and has been using this mark extensively throughout the world. The disputed domain names entirely incorporate the trademark MIDEA and combine it with non-distinctive additional portions – i.e. prefix “co” and “phar” and suffix “aircon” and “store”. As “midea” is a highly distinctive and apparently coined term with no identifiable/known meaning, the addition of these other portions to the disputed domain names does very little to prevent a finding of confusing similarity. In fact, “aircon” and “store” are actually the terms closely related to the Complainant’s actual business. The Complainant’s products are widely available via online and at offline stores, and “aircon” which refers to an “air conditioner” in the Korean language is one of the Complainant’s core products. The Panel notes Respondent’s contentions on the composition of the disputed domain names <comidea.com>, and <pharmidea.com>, which will be addressed under the third element (as despite the Respondent’s contentions the trademark MIDEA is recognizable within the disputed domain names).
Given the above circumstances, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the asserted trademark, and the first element has been established.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
On the basis of the present record, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made the required allegations to support a prima facie showing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Once such a prima facie basis has been established, the Respondent carries the burden of demonstrating its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent in this case has chosen to file a Response, but without rebutting these assertions by the Complainant, and there is no evidence or allegation in the record that would warrant a finding in favor of the Respondent on this point.
For the reasons provided above, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the second element has been established.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Rarely, if ever, will there be an admission or other direct evidence of a Respondent’s bad faith intent, so all the relevant facts and circumstances must be considered and balanced, in order to reach the most logical and sound conclusion. While no one factor by itself is entirely dispositive, the following two factors can be found in this proceeding, and each strongly suggests that bad faith is likely present:
(1) the disputed domain names incorporate a very well-known, unique and/or distinctive mark, which is difficult to view as legitimate coincidence; and
(2) there is a history/record of repeated similar bad faith conduct by the Respondent in the past, and/or other obvious and convincing evidence of present bad faith activities.
First, the MIDEA trademark appears to be very unique and distinctive, as there is no commonly known meaning for this term. When this term is searched online, the vast majority of the hits for at least the first several pages of the search results refers to the Complainant and/or its products – the only rare exceptions being references to a person’s surname (which does not seem to be the reason for the registration here). Thus it would appear very unlikely that the Respondent innocently and legitimately registered and used the disputed domain names. Further, one of the disputed domain names combines the trademark MIDEA with the term “aircon” (a common reference to an air conditioner in the Korean language), where air conditioners are one of the core products of the Complainant. This further suggests that bad faith exists here.
Second, where a Respondent has a history of bad faith findings against him, while it should not be automatically presumed that all domain names owned by the Respondent are likewise held in bad faith, it would be reasonable to view this as raising an inference of bad faith, and the inference grows stronger as the number of such prior findings increases. There are many such prior UDRP decisions against the Respondent in this proceeding (under the names of JUNGYUHKOOK and/or BEATS): L’Oréal v. beats, WIPO Case No. D2019-2655; Monada Biomichanikon Iatrikon Aerion Kritis Mobiak AE v. Beats, WIPO Case No. D2019-2606; Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. v. Beats, WIPO Case No. D2019-2413; Robert Bosch GmbH v. JUNGYUHKOOK / beats, WIPO Case No. D2019-2162; Sas Conecteo v. Beats, WIPO Case No. D2019-0374; Institut de Recherche Biologique – IRB v. Jungyuhkook, WIPO Case No. D2018-2125; Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana (Funiber) v. Jungyuhkook, WIPO Case No. D2019-2743; etc. Further, the Respondent currently holds registrations for a number of domain names that obviously incorporate the famous trademarks of others – i.e. <alibabacard.com>, <amazonway.com>, <googleaps.com> and <vodafonestore.com>.
The Respondent did eventually submit a late Response asserting mainly two points: (1) <comidea.com> was intended to be a combination of “computer” and “idea”, and (2) <pharmidea.com> was intended to be a combination of “pharm” and “idea”. This contrived explanation does not serve the Respondent’s cause. It is difficult to believe that the Respondent sincerely and in good faith had plans or intentions relating to both computers and pharmaceuticals. Further, the Respondent’s complete silence on the other two disputed domain names (<mideaaircon.com> and <mideastore.com>) is very telling as well. In short, these assertions are not only unsubstantiated, they are simply not credible. The fact that some of the disputed domain names were registered around 10 years ago is not relevant in this proceeding, noting the circumstances of this case, particularly the composition of the disputed domain names, and that the Complainant’s trademark predates the registration of the first of the disputed domain names.
Furthermore, the disputed domain names have been used for a parking page with advertising links (some related to the Complainant, others related to the same type of products commercialized by the Complainant, and other links apparently unrelated). In the circumstances of this case, the Panel finds the use of the disputed domain names to be in bad faith.
In light of the facts and circumstances described above, there are sufficient grounds to find the existence of the required bad faith, and the Panel concludes that the third element has been established.
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 names <mideaaircon.com>, and <mideastore.com>, be transferred to the Complainant, and the disputed domain names <comidea.com>, and <pharmidea.com> be cancelled.
Date: June 17, 2021, 2021