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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
AT&T Corp v. Beomjoon Park
Case No. D2001-0133
Viacom International Inc. v Beomjoon Park
Case No. D2001-0220
1. The Parties
These two Complaints involve the same domain name and the same Respondent. Accordingly, both have been considered together and one decision given. It is commonplace in many jurisdictions for a Court to consider two similar cases brought by different claimants against the same respondent, involving the same subject matter. One judgment is given in such cases, covering both Complaints. There is nothing in the UDRP to forbid such a procedure in an administrative proceeding under that Policy.
The First Complainant is AT&T Corp, a New York corporation having its principal place of business in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.A. It is represented by Mr A.C. Raul of Sidley & Austin of Washington DC, U.S.A. The Second Complainant is Viacom International Inc., a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York, NY, U.S.A. It is represented by Mr Dennis Wilson of Keats McFarland & Wilson of Beverley Hills, California, U.S.A.
The Respondent in both Complaints is Beomjoon Park of 4/703 Jamwon Hanshin Apt., Jamwon, Seocho, Seoul, Republic of Korea. The Respondent has filed no Response to either Complaint and is not represented.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name at issue in both Complaints is <attviacom.com>. The domain name is registered with Network Solutions Inc., of Herndon. Virginia, U.S.A. ("NSI").
3. Procedural History
The First Complaint was received on January 24, 2001, (electronic version) and January 26, 2001, (hard copy). The Second Complaint was received on February 6, 2001, (electronic version) and February 8, 2001, (hard copy). Both were received by the World Intellectual Property Organization and Mediation Center ("WIPO Center"). The Second Complaint was filed with knowledge of the First Complaint.
On January 29, 2001 and February 15, 2001, the usual requests for Registrar verification were transmitted in respect of each Complaint by the WIPO Center to NSI, requesting it to:
Confirm that a copy of the Complaint had been sent to it by the Complainant as requested by WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("Supplemental Rules"), paragraph 4(b).
Confirm that the domain name at issue is registered with NSI.
Confirm that the person identified as the Respondent is the current registrant of the domain name.
Provide full contact details, i.e., postal address(es), telephone number(s), facsimile number(s), email address(es), available in NSI’s WHOIS database for the registrant of the disputed domain name, the technical contact, the administrative contact and the billing contact for the domain name.
Indicate the current status of the domain name.
On January 30, 2001 and February 15, 2001, NSI advised the Center on each occasion that:
NSI had received a copy of the Complaint from the Complainants.
NSI is the Registrar of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent at the address above is shown as the "current registrant" of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent is also shown as the administrative and billing contact.
NSI’s 5.0 Service Agreement applies to the domain name.
The domain name registration is in "Active" status.
NSI has currently incorporated in its agreements the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN").
The advice from NSI that the Respondent is the "current registrant" of the domain name in question and that the domain name is in "active" status indicates the Respondent has not requested that the domain name at issue be deleted from the domain name database. The Respondent has not sought to terminate the agreement with NSI. Accordingly, the Respondent is bound by the provisions of NSI’s Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, i.e., the ICANN policy. The Respondent has not challenged the jurisdiction of the Panel.
Having verified that the First Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Policy and the Uniform Rules, the WIPO Center, on February 1, 2001, transmitted by post-courier and by email a Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding to the Respondent. A copy of the First Complaint was also emailed to the Registrar and ICANN. The same process was followed with the Second Complaint commencing February 19, 2001.
The Complainants elected to have their respective Complaints resolved by a single panel member: Both duly paid the amount required to the WIPO Center.
The Respondent was advised that a Response to both Complaints was required within 20 calendar days. The Respondent was advised that any Response should be communicated, in accordance with the Rules, by four sets of hard copy and by email. No proper Response was filed by the Respondent to either Complaint.
In respect of the First Complaint, there were communications between WIPO Center, the respondent and his representative in Gangseogu, Republic of Korea, a Mr. Sang-Wouk Woo. A document in Korean was forwarded on February 19, 2001. This may have been a Response. The Respondent and his agent were advised by WIPO Center that English was the language of the administrative proceeding and a translation of the document in Korean was requested. No translation was forthcoming. A Notice of Respondent Default was issued in respect of the Second Complaint on March 16, 2001.
On March 5, 2001, the WIPO Center invited the Honorable Sir Ian Barker QC of Auckland, New Zealand to serve as Sole Panelist in both cases. It transmitted to him statements of acceptance and requested declarations of impartiality and independence.
On March 5, 2001, the Honorable Sir Ian Barker QC advised his acceptance and forwarded to the WIPO Center his statements of impartiality and independence. The Panelist finds that the Administrative Panel was properly constituted in accordance with the Rules and the Supplemental Rules in respect of each Complaint.
On March 26, 2001, WIPO Center forwarded to the Honorable Sir Ian Barker QC by courier the relevant submissions and the record. In terms of Rule 5(b), in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel was required to forward its decision by April 8, 2001.
The Panel has independently determined and agrees with the assessment of WIPO Center that each Complaint meets the formal requirements of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy as approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999, ("the Rules") and the Supplemental Rules.
The language of the administrative proceeding is English, being the language of the registration agreement. On March 26, 2001, the Respondent complained to WIPO Center about the documentation being in English, which language he claimed he did not understand. The Panel comments on these allegations.
(a) The Respondent chose both to avail himself of registration of a domain name in an English-speaking country and to enter into a contract that requires disputes relating to that domain name to be conducted in the English language.
(b) Some of the Respondent’s correspondence and the statements on his website which speculated about a merger between the two Complainants show some familiarity with the English language.
(c) The Panel takes judicial notice from other WIPO cases and from general knowledge that many persons in Korea are able to speak English and that suitable translators exist in that country.
Accordingly, like the learned Panelist in Viacom International Inc. v Sung Wook Choi et enor (WIPO Case No. D2000-1114), this Panel considers that there has been no breach of natural justice to the Respondent.
4. Factual Background
The First Complainant, AT&T, has been selling telecommunication goods and services for over a century under the name "AT&T" or phrases that combine "AT&T" or "ATT" with other words. It has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in many countries, including Korea where the Respondent operates. In 1995, it received a US$540 million contract to supply wireless network equipment to Korea Mobile Telecom with 6 million customers. In 1997, it designed telecommunications at Indon International Airport. It also has websites aimed at Korean internet users.
The First Complainant has rights to a U.S.-registered trademark for the mark "AT&T", which was registered in Korea on June 3, 1986. It has filed in the U.S. for the trademark ATT.COM and owns a domain name <att.com>. It is well known that an ampersand is not allowed as part of a domain name. The AT&T mark is known worldwide.
The Second Complainant Viacom started in 1971 handling CBS domestic cable television interests and syndications worldwide. Through a wide array of businesses and different forms of media, it operates extensively in many countries.
The Second Complainant has owned and still owns trademark registrations for the Viacom mark in 80 countries, including the United States and Korea. It has been active in Korea for a number of years. It has used the Viacom mark both on the internet and in the credits in broadcast programs and other advertisements. The mark "Viacom" was first registered in the United States in 1975 and in Korea in 1996.
The Respondent registered the domain name <attviacom.com> on January 12, 2000. In his response to the First Complainant’s series of "cease and desist" letters, which began on May 15, 2000, and in subsequent emails, the Respondent sought to extract payment from the First Complainant in return for a transfer of the name. He made no response to the Second Complainant’s "cease and desist" letter of December 20, 2000. On January 8, 2001, the Second Complainant learned that the Respondent had sought to auction the domain name on the internet under the heading: "Will AT&T and Viacom be merged?". He sought an initial bid of $100,000.00.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainants allege that the domain name, by combining two famous marks known worldwide, creates confusing similarity with the marks of both of them. A finding of confusing similarity cannot be avoided by adding a common or generic term to a mark (see Viacom et al v Affinity Multimedia, WIPO Case No. D2000-1253). Reference was also made to WIPO Case No. D2000-0553, where the transfer to AT&T was ordered of the domain names <attmexico.com> and <att-latinamerica.com>.
Both Complainants submit that visitors to the website could be confused into thinking that the domain name is a site owned and maintained by them jointly to promote products and services. Reference was also made to this Panelist’s decision in AT&T Corp v Tala Alamuddin (WIPO Case No. D2000-0249), in which transfer was ordered of the name <ATT2000.com>.
The Respondent has no legitimate interest in the domain name. None has been asserted.
The Respondent has registered and is using the name in bad faith. His conduct indicates that he registered the domain name either to sell it for a profit or else to "lock it up" against any future merger of the Complainants. They point to the WIPO Case No. D2000-0915, Compaňia de Radiocomuniзationes Movites. and BellSouth Corporation v Bolinhas. There, the combination of two famous marks Movicom and BellSouth into a domain name by a party unconnected with either, was taken to show bad faith registration. There is also the evidence of the Respondent’s clear wish to sell the name and/or to auction it.
The Respondent made no submissions in respect of either Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to:
"decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the policy, these rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
The burden for the Complainants, under paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN Policy, is to show:
- That the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainants have rights; and
- That the Respondent has no legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
- That the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
The domain name <attviacom.com> in the judgment of the Panel, is confusingly similar to the marks of both Complainants. The combination of two famous marks has a great potential to confuse internet users into believing that the website is some sort of co-operative venture between the Complainants.
The Panel also refers to SMS Demag v Seung Gon Kim (WIPO Case No. D2000-1434), where the name <SMSdemag.com>, a combination of the famous marks of two merging companies, was ordered to be transferred to the merged entity. Likewise London Metal Exchange Ltd v Hussain (WIPO Case No. D2000-1388,) and Pharmacia & Upjohn v Monsantopharmacia.com. Inc. (WIPO Case No. D2000-0446).
The Panel decides that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue. The Respondent has never suggested to the contrary. The Panel so decides. The Respondent has offered no evidence that he is known by the disputed domain name.
Paragraph 4(b) of the ICANN Policy states:
"For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location."
It should be noted that the circumstances of bad faith are not limited to the above.
The Panel considers that the Respondent has registered and used the domain name in "bad faith" for the reasons set out in the summary of the Complainants’ submissions. There has clearly been a cynical attempt by the Respondent to use in a speculative way a combination of two famous marks in the entertainment industry. Bad faith registration and use are clearly shown. The Respondent has either ignored the "cease and desist" letters sent by one Complainant or replied to the other with a cheeky offer to sell and/or as a meritless justification for his conduct. He must have known of the fame of the Complainants’ mark at the time of registration. His continued use is in bad faith, is also obvious from his attempt to auction the name.
Accordingly, for all the various reasons discussed above, the Panel finds that the domain name has been registered and is being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, the Panel decides:
(a) That the domain name registered by the Respondent is confusingly similar to the trademark to which the Complainants both have rights;
(b) That the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(c) That the Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Policy, the Panel requires that the registration of the domain name <attviacom.com> be cancelled.
Hon. Sir Ian Barker QC
Dated: March 30, 2001