WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
Alternative Dispute Resolution Proceeding
Case No. DSE2018-0060
The Petitioner is Edward Green & Company Limited of theUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the “UK”), represented by SafeNames Ltd., UK.
2. Domain Holder
The Domain Holder is D. T., Kisel Stockholm AB, of Sweden.
3. Domain Name and Procedural History
This Alternative Dispute Resolution proceeding relates to the domain name <edwardgreen.se>.
This Petition was filed under the Terms and Conditions of registration (the “.se Policy”) and the Instructions governing Alternative Dispute Resolution proceeding for domain names in the top-level domain .se (the “.se Rules”).
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (“the Center”) verified that the Petition satisfied the formal requirements of the .se Policy and the .se Rules. In accordance with Section 13 of the .se Rules, the Center formally notified the Domain Holder of the Petition on November 7, 2018. The Domain Holder did not submit any response and, accordingly, the Center notified the Domain Holder's default on December 10, 2018.
The Center appointed Bengt Eliasson as the sole Arbitrator in this matter on December 14, 2018. The Arbitrator has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with Section 1 of the .se Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Petitioner, Edward Green & Company Limited, is an English shoemaker based in Northampton, UK. The Petitioner filed an application for Alternative Dispute Resolution for the disputed domain name <edwardgreen.se> on October 29, 2018. The Domain Holder has been given an opportunity to submit a reply, but no reply has been filed by the Domain Holder within the given deadline.
The Petitioner was founded in 1890 in Northampton by a shoemaker of the same name. The Edward Green brand became known to promise of “Excellence without compromise”, specializing in high quality hand-crafted shoes. Renowned for its English Goodyear Welted footwear which affords durability due to its unique stitching technique, the company became the largest manufacturer of officer’s boots for the British Army during the 1930s.
Over a century later, the company still based in Northampton UK now has over sixty skilled artisans making around 350 pairs of shoes a week, many for export to the world’s leading boutiques and department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Double Monk in Melbourne and Isetan in Tokyo. The Petitioner also operates its own shops in London and Paris.
The Petitioner has based the application on the reputation of the trademark EDWARD GREEN as well as the following registrations of the same. European Union trademark registration number 005708656, covering class 25, registered on January 30, 2008, and European Union trademark registration number 011121928 covering class 18, 25, 35, registered on May 30, 2013, as well as International trademark registration number 1295147, designating the European Union, covering class 18, 25, 35 and registered on October 9, 2015.
The disputed domain name <edwardgreen.se> was registered by the Domain Holder on October 11, 2013 and is redirecting to the Domain Holder’s website <skoaktiebolaget.com> selling products competing with the Petitioner’s products.
The Petitioner claims that the disputed domain name shall be transferred to the Petitioner.
6. Parties’ Contentions
The Petitioner’s trademark EDWARD GREEN has been used since 1890 in respect of high quality men shoes made with superior French and Italian leather. Because of the brands high level of craftsmanship, it has established an exceptional reputation among luxury retailers and fashion experts. In addition has the Petitioner expanded its trademark portfolio across various jurisdictions globally, including the following trademark registrations in the European Union, EDWARD GREEN, registered on January 30, 2008, registration number 005708656; EDWARD GREEN, registered on May 30, 2013, registration number 0111211928; and EDWARD GREEN, International trademark registered on October 9, 2015, registration number 1295147.
The Petitioner has brought forward this application for Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) on the grounds that the disputed domain name, <edwardgreen.se>, is identical and confusingly similar to the Petitioner’s trademark EDWARD GREEN. As it is settled practice to ignore the second level domain extension, the “.se” part of the domain name is disregarded when making comparisons as the Top-Level Domain (“TLD”) extension is a functional requirement of the domain name system. On the basis of the above, the Petitioner requests that the domain name, <edwardgreen.se>, be found to be either identical or confusingly similar to the Petitioner’s trademark EDWARD GREEN.
In the instant case, the Domain Holder has been acting in bad faith based on the following reasons:
The disputed domain name was registered on October 11, 2013, by a Mr. D. T. who is the co-owner and founder of ‘Skoaktiebolaget’, a shoe store for men based in Stockholm, Sweden. Between the years 2013 and 2016, the Domain Holder was a reseller of the Petitioner’s shoes which were sold in Sweden from its brick-and-mortar store.
The Domain Holder trades under the name ‘Skoaktiebolaget’, and further operates the website <skoaktiebolaget.com> which it also used to promote and sell the Petitioner’s shoes among other brands. Whilst the Domain Holder was recognized as a reseller between 2013 and 2016, this right in no way entitled the Domain Holder to register the trademarks of the Petitioner. In fact, the Complainant does not authorize any single retailer to use the EDWARD GREEN trademarks for its own business activities. The principle that a reseller has no automatic right to register the domains of its principal has long been established in ADR-rulings; see ATF Decision No. 9, <peugeot.se>; ATF Decision No. 37, <funai.se>; ATF Decision No. 39, <plantronics.se>; and <ATF Decision No. 527, <redkap.se>.
Evidence shows that since the domain name registration in 2013, it has always redirected to the Domain Holder’s website <skoaktiebolaget.com>. This implies that the Domain Holder has never believed he had the right to represent himself as “Edward Green Sweden” or use the Petitioner’s trademark in the context of a domain name. By registering the domain name, the Domain Holder was effectively taking unfair advantage of the Petitioner’s trademark. It is this type of behavior that led to the breakdown of the Parties’ manufacturer-retailer relationship in 2016.
Considering the fact that the Domain Holder no longer had any authorization to sell the Petitioner’s products since 2016, and its own public statements to no longer sell the Petitioner’s products, he still continues to maintain the domain name to divert traffic to his website, which offers the products of the Petitioner’s competitors. The Petitioner has made multiple attempts to request the transfer of its domain name both informally and formally, however the Domain Holder has failed to respond to these notices.
To date, Petitioner has two authorized resellers in Sweden which, operate from their own websites. The Domain Holder’s use of a domain name that incorporates the Petitioner’s trademark has therefore the potential to cause confusion for consumers who may either believe that the domain will take them to the official site of the Petitioner, or that the Domain Holder is still affiliated or authorized to sell the Petitioner’s goods. The Petitioner maintains that this dispute is not concerned with the prior relationship that existed between the parties, but instead is concerned with the abusive registration and continued use of a domain name the Domain Holder has never had any right to register or currently use. As a consequence the Domain Holders registration of the disputed domain name will prevent the Petitioner from reflecting its trademark in the ”.se” name space.
It is clear that the Domain Holder is no longer a reseller of EDWARD GREEN and has no authorization to stock EDWARD GREEN shoes. In the <diamondbrite.se> case, the Arbitrator held that in some circumstances it may be ‘reasonable’ for an agent to continue using a domain name after termination if it were necessary to dispose of inventory and to keep in touch with previous customers, but the Petitioner argues that these circumstances do not exist in the present case. For example, after the termination of the agent relationship, the Domain Holder openly communicated that it would no longer be selling EDWARD GREEN. In the <alessi.se> case, the Arbitrator held: “Furthermore, the use of a trademark by an agent or licensee is considered to be made on behalf of the Principal and all rights therefrom shall inure to the benefit of the Principal. Consequently all use prior to the Petitioner’s termination is to be considered as made by the Petitioner and all use thereafter is made in bad faith.”
The Petitioner has also made multiple attempts to contact the Domain Holder for the transfer of its domain name with no response. Arbitrators have previously found that a domain holder’s failure to respond to the Petitioner’s attempts to resolve this dispute outside administrative proceedings, is indicative of a lack of rights or legitimate interest (see PetPlan Ltd v. B.H., WIPO Case No. DSE2017-0018).
For all of the above reasons, the Petitioner respectfully requests that the Arbitrator finds that the Domain Holder has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, <edwardgreen.se>.
B. Domain Holder
The Domain Holder has not filed any reply or comments to the Petition.
7. Discussion and Findings
A domain name may, in accordance with the .se Policy paragraph 7.2, be deregistered or transferred to the party requesting dispute resolution proceedings if all of the following three conditions are fulfilled:
1. The Domain Name is identical or similar to a name which is legally binding in Sweden and to which the party requesting dispute resolution can prove its rights, and
2. The Domain Name has been registered or used in bad faith, and
3. The Domain Holder has no rights or justified interest in the Domain Name.
All three conditions must be met in order for a petitioner to succeed in its action.
A. The Domain Name is identical or similar to a name which is legally recognized in Sweden and to which the Petitioner can prove its rights
The Petitioner is the owner of the European Union trademarks No. 005708656 and No. 011121928 EDWARD GREEN (word marks) as well as the International trademark registration No. 1295147 EDWARD GREEN (word), designating the European Union, which are identical to the disputed domain name.
B. The Domain Name has been registered or used in bad faith
The Arbitrator concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered long after the registration of the Petitioner’s first European Union trademark registration. The Petitioner has contended that the disputed domain name was registered for the purposes of redirecting Internet users to the Domain Holder’s website ”skoaktiebolaget.com”, and thereby taking unfair advantage of the reputation of the Petitioner’s trademark, especially after the termination of the reseller relationship in 2016. In the absence of any facts or comments in the case contradicting the claims presented by the Petitioner, it may be considered that the Domain Holder has registered and/or used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
C. The Domain Holder has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name
The Domain Holder has not submitted any reply to the Petition and there is nothing else in the case stating that the Domain Holder has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Redirecting of the disputed domain name to a website for sales of products competing with the Petitioner’s products without presenting any consent or motives for such use is not sufficient for the Arbitrator to consider the Domain Holder to have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Arbitrator therefore concludes that the Domain Holder has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The disputed domain name <edwardgreen.se> shall be transferred to the Petitioner.
The disputed domain name is identical to the Petitioner’s registered trademark and has been registered after the registration of the Petitioner’s reputed trademark. The Domain Holder has been a reseller of the Petitioner’s products and redirected the domain name to his own website, which also included sales of products competing with the Petitioner’s products. The redirection has continued after termination of the reseller relationship. Based on the record, the Arbitrator finds that the disputed domain name has been registered and/or used in bad faith. Furthermore, the Arbitrator concludes that the Domain Holder has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Date: December 21, 2018