WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) v. Domain Admin, FBS INC, Whoisprotection.biz / Fikret Unal
Case No. D2021-1115
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The International Olympic Committee (“IOC”), Switzerland, represented by Bird & Bird (Belgium) LLP, Belgium.
The Respondent is Domain Admin, FBS INC, Whoisprotection.biz, Turkey / Fikret Unal, Turkey.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <imaocolympic.com> is registered with FBS Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 12, 2021. On April 12, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 13, 2021, 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 15, 2021 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 20, 2021.
The Registrar also indicated that the language of the Registration Agreement was Turkish. The Center sent an email communication in English and Turkish, to the Parties on April 15, 2021, inviting the Complainant to provide sufficient evidence of an agreement between the Parties for English to be the language of the proceeding, a Complaint translated into Turkish, or a request for English to be the language of the proceeding. The Complainant filed a request for English to be the language of the proceeding on April 19, 2021. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.
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 22, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 12, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 14, 2021.
The Center appointed Kaya Köklü as the sole panelist in this matter on May 25, 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 an international, non-governmental and non-profit organization, which is responsible for supervising the organization of the Olympic Games.
The Complainant owns various OLYMPIC trademark registrations around the world, including in Turkey, where the Respondent appears to be located. According to the provided documents in the case file, the Complainant is, inter alia, the registered owner of the International Trademark Registration No. 1128501 (registered on November 6, 2011) covering trademark protection in many countries (including Turkey) for goods and services in nearly all classes (Annex 9 to the Complaint).
The Complainant operates its official website at <olympic.org>.
The Respondent is an individual from Turkey.
The disputed domain name was registered on July 6, 2019.
The screenshots, as provided by the Complainant, show that the disputed domain name resolves to a website in blog format, which displays an overview of different martial arts and fighting sports, which are alleged to be part of a so-called “International Martial Arts Olympic Committee” (Annex 2 to the Complaint). On the website, the Respondent prominently uses a figurative logo comprising various colored rings, which is obviously inspired by the famous Olympic rings of the Complainant (Annex 2 to the Complaint). Furthermore, many pages and tabs of the website are left blank or redirect users to adult dating pages.
Prior to the administrative proceeding, the Respondent applied for trademark protection in Turkey for its above mentioned colored rings, whose registration was, however, rejected by the Turkish Trademark Office due to a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s Olympic rings trademark (Annex 8 to the Complaint).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant is of the opinion that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its OLYMPIC trademark.
Furthermore, the Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. It is rather argued that, although the Respondent is not recognized as an official entity or organization with the Olympic Movement (Annex 6 to the Complaint), the disputed domain name falsely suggests that there is some official or authorized link between the Complainant and the Respondent.
Finally, it is argued that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant particularly argues that the Respondent must have been well aware of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark when registering the disputed domain name, particularly as the Respondent uses without authorization further logos, which are confusingly similar to the Olympic rings trademark of the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Language of the Proceedings
The Panel determines in accordance with the Complainant’s request and the Rules, paragraph 11(a), that the language of this administrative proceeding shall be English. Although the language of the registration agreement is Turkish, the Panel finds that it would be inappropriate, given the circumstances of this case, to conduct the proceedings in Turkish and request a Turkish translation of the Complaint while the Respondent has failed to raise any objection or even to respond to the Center’s communication about the language of the proceedings, even though communicated in Turkish and in English. The Panel notes that the Respondent was given the opportunity to respond in Turkish and that this opportunity remained unused by the Respondent. Furthermore, the Panel notes that the disputed domain name resolves to a Website in the English language, which indicates that the Respondent is able to read, write and understand English.
Consequently, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent will not be prejudiced by a decision being rendered in English.
6.2. Substantive Issues
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark 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.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the Complainant bears the burden of proving that all these requirements are fulfilled, even if the Respondent has not replied to the Complainant’s contentions. Stanworth Development Limited v. E Net Marketing Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2007-1228.
However, concerning the uncontested information provided by the Complainant, the Panel may, where relevant, accept the provided reasonable factual allegations in the Complaint as true. See section 4.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
It is further noted that the Panel has taken note of the WIPO Overview 3.0 and, where appropriate, will decide consistent with the consensus views captured therein.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel notes that the Complainant has registered trademark rights in the mark OLYMPIC by virtue of various trademark registrations, including an International Trademark Registration covering protection in Turkey, where the Respondent is located.
The Panel further finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered OLYMPIC trademark, as it fully incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. As stated at section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0, where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other letters or terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. The mere addition of the letters “i", “m”, “a”, “o” and “c” does, in view of the Panel, not serve to avoid a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel further finds that the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
While the burden of proof on this element remains with the complainant, previous UDRP panels have recognized that this would result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, in particular as the evidence in this regard is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore, the Panel agrees with prior UDRP panels that the Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case before the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name in order to meet the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. See, Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied this requirement, while the Respondent has failed to file any evidence or make any convincing argument to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name according to the Policy, paragraphs 4(a)(ii) and 4(c).
In its Complaint, the Complainant has provided uncontested prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests to use the Complainant’s trademark OLYMPIC in a confusingly similar way within the disputed domain name.
In particular, there is no indication in the current record that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name. In the absence of a response, the Respondent has particularly failed to demonstrate any of the other non-exclusive circumstances evidencing rights or legitimate interests under the Policy, paragraph 4(c) or other evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Also, the Panel sees no indication in the case file for a bona fide offering of goods or services in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy. As many pages and tabs of the website linked to the disputed domain name are left blank or redirect users to e.g. dating platforms (Annex 2 to the Complaint), the Panel finds that the website at the disputed domain name is rather used to redirect misled visitors to unrelated third-party websites. This is in view of the Panel particularly likely, as the nature of the disputed domain name carries a risk of implied affiliation or association, as stated in section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
As a conclusion, the Panel finds that the Complainant has also satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the Panel’s view, the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel is convinced that the Respondent must have had the Complainant’s widely known OLYMPIC trademark in mind when registering the disputed domain name. It even appears to the Panel that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name solely for the purpose of creating an association with the Complainant and the Olympic Movement.
After having reviewed the Complainant’s screenshots of the website linked to the disputed domain name, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent has intentionally registered the disputed domain name comprising the OLYMPIC trademark in order to generate traffic to its own website. The Panel notes that the Respondent has not published any visible disclaimer on the website linked to the disputed domain name to explain that there is no existing relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant. Quite the opposite, the prominent use of a logo, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s Olympic rings trademark and the nature of the disputed domain name is, in view of the Panel, sufficient evidence that the Respondent intentionally tries to attract, for commercial or other illegitimate gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant and its OLYMPIC trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of its website.
Furthermore, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s failure to respond to the Complaint further supports the conclusion that it has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is used in bad faith and that the Complainant has also satisfied the third element of the Policy, namely, paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 <imaocolympic.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: June 8, 2021