WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) v. Alex Jeff
Case No. D2021-4003
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The International Olympic Committee (IOC), Switzerland, represented by Bird & Bird (Belgium) LLP, Belgium.
The Respondent is Alex Jeff, South Africa.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <olympicstreams.net> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 30, 2021. On December 1, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 2, 2021, 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 December 7, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 27, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 19, 2022.
The Center appointed Colin T. O'Brien as the sole panelist in this matter on January 28, 2022. 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’s first Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens and since then has conducted 23 Olympic Winter Games and 28 Olympic Summer Games.
The Complainant owns an International trademark registration for OLYMPIC covering International Classes 1 to 45 in numerous jurisdictions globally (Registration No. 1128501, registered on November 8, 2011).
The Complainant operates its official website at “olympic.org”. In 2016, the Complainant launched a digital platform called the “Olympic Channel” that allows the general public to view original programming, live sports events, and reports throughout the year the platform is accessible via the website “www.olympicchannel.com” but also via mobile applications for Android and IOS.
The disputed domain name was registered on April 25, 2021. Currently, the disputed domain name resolves to an active website that direct Internet users to streaming of the Complainant’s or third-party live sporting events.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark has also been considered to have an extraordinarily high level of recognition in the general public. The disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark in its entirety, apart from the additional plural form “streams”. The mere addition of this generic term does not make the disputed domain name distinctive from the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark since the Respondent includes in the disputed domain name the entirety of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark.
Taken in combination with the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark, the term “streams” rather strengthens the association with the Complainant since the IOC undertakes substantial media-related activities, including the streaming of sports events on the Internet.
The extension “.net” is not to be taken into consideration when examining the identity or similarity between the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark and the disputed domain name.
The Respondent is neither affiliated with the Complainant in any way nor has the Complainant licensed, authorized or permitted the Respondent to use or register, or to seek registration, of any domain name or trademark incorporating the OLYMPIC trademark. In the absence of any license or permission from the Complainant to use its OLYMPIC trademark, no actual or contemplated bona fide or legitimate use of the disputed domain name could reasonably be claimed.
The Respondent cannot assert that it was using or had made demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name, or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name, in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services.
The disputed domain name resolves to an active website used for illegal streaming of sport events by displaying links allowing access third-party to websites offering unauthorized live streaming of sport’s events in violation of copyrights. Additionally, during the holding of the Olympic Games, the Respondent offered live streaming of the Olympic Games without authorization from the Complainant, which streaming was reserved to other authorized parties.
The links at the website for the disputed domain name point to websites requesting Internet users to create “free” accounts by inputting email and password information. Consequently, users of the website may reveal personal details such as user names and passwords. This provides the Respondent with user information which is potentially able to be used or sold for commercial gain.
It is clear the Respondent uses the disputed domain name to redirect Internet Users to streaming websites, with the purpose of collecting income not only by placing advertisements on the website under the disputed domain name but also by the Internet traffic attracted to these links.
At the time of registration of the disputed domain name, the Respondent already knew, or at least should have known, of the existence of the Complainant and of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark. Actual or constructive knowledge of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark can be inferred from its widespread use and worldwide reputation.
Given the reputation and popularity of the Complainant (as reflected in, inter alia, the unique audience of the Olympic Games), it would defy common sense for the Respondent to argue that it was not aware that it was registering a domain name incorporating the Complainant’s well-known OLYMPIC trademark.
The only plausible explanation for the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name is to unlawfully exploit and capitalize on the reputation behind the OLYMPIC trademark of the Complainant without any authorization or rights to do so.
Through the use of the disputed domain name, the Respondent is thus deliberately creating a likelihood of confusion, in the minds of Internet users, by suggesting that a connection, affiliation, or association exist between the Complainant and the Respondent, when in fact, no such relation exists at all. Hence, the Respondent is relying on that confusion to intentional divert Internet traffic destined to the Complainant’s website to the Respondent’s website.
By providing links to third-party streaming services, the Respondent is assisting in the illegitimate provision of broadcasting services that are directly relied upon by the Complainant as a source of revenue. The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name diverts consumers away from the Complainant’s official broadcasters, having the effect of disrupting the Complainant’s business.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has demonstrated it owns registered trademark rights in the globally famous OLYMPIC mark. The addition of the term “streams” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. See section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”).
Accordingly, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has presented a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name and has not been commonly known by the disputed domain name. The fact that the Respondent obtained the disputed domain name after Complainant had begun using its global famous OLYMPICS mark indicates that the Respondent sought to piggyback on the OLYMPIC mark for illegitimate reasons either through copyright infringement or through pay-per-click revenue.
After a complainant has made a prima facie case, the burden of production shifts to a respondent to present evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. See, e.g., Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455.
Here, the Respondent has provided no evidence of any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
In the absence of any evidence rebutting the Complainant’s prima facie case indicating the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The disputed domain name was registered many years after the Complainant first registered and used its globally famous OLYMPIC trademark. The evidence on the record provided by the Complainant with respect to the extent of use and global fame of its OLYMPIC trademark, combined with the absence of any evidence provided by the Respondent to the contrary, is sufficient to satisfy the Panel that, at the time the disputed domain name was registered, the Respondent undoubtedly knew of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC trademark, and knew that it had no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
There is prima facie no reason for the Respondent to have registered the disputed domain name containing the entirety of the OLYMPIC trademark with the term “streams”.
Further, the use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent is clearly in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b)(iv) states that evidence of bad faith may include a respondent’s use of a domain name to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the respondent’s website or location. The Complainant has submitted evidence that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in order to direct users to a website which claims to offer streaming videos of the Complainant’s games and other sporting events. Given the fame of the Complainant’s OLYMPIC mark, the obvious inference is that the Respondent hoped to trick either customers or fans of the Complainant to visit the website at the disputed domain name to either direct a user to websites which can allow for the viewing of copyrighted content without actually paying the creator of the content or receive click-through revenue from such direction. This is a textbook example of bad faith use on the part of the Respondent.
In the absence of any evidence or explanation from the Respondent, the Panel finds that the only plausible basis for registering and using the disputed domain name has been for illegitimate and bad faith purposes.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied 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 <olympicstreams.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 2, 2022