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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Honda Giken Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha v. James Harris
Case No. D2005-1069
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Honda Giken Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, Japan, represented by Mitscherlich & Partner, Germany.
The Respondent is James Harris, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <honda-worldwide.com> and <honda-worldwide.net> are registered with YesNIC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 10, 2005. On October 11, 2005, the Center transmitted by email to YesNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On October 14, 2005, YesNIC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact.
In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on October 19, 2005. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 28, 2005. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 17, 2005. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 18, 2005.
The Center appointed Ms Fleur Hinton as the sole panelist in this matter on December 1, 2005. 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 the owner of 30 trademark registrations in Germany and 25 registrations for community trademarks (‘ctm’) each of which includes the word ‘Honda’.
The Respondent registered the domain names < honda-worldwide.com> and < honda-worldwide.net> on July 21, 2005, and has since that time operated a site at those addresses.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the disputed domain names contain the word ‘Honda’ which is either identical with or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights. In this instance, the trademarks to which it refers are 30 registrations recorded at the German Patent and Trademark office and 25 registrations recorded at the Community Trademark office.
It states further that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest to the names and that the Respondent’s only reason for registering the domain names was to send emails which were scams in that they represented that the recipient had won a lottery which was held as a promotional exercise by Honda KK of Japan, the trademark owner.
Finally the Complainant alleges that the Respondent registered the domain names with the knowledge that it is the Complainant which is the owner of the trade mark HONDA in relation to cars and products for cars. The allegation continues that it was the sole aim of the Respondent to mislead visitors to the site by using the good name of the Complainant to persuade members of the public to whom these ‘pshishing’ emails had been sent into parting with confidential personal information to facilitate identity theft.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain names < honda-worldwide.com> and < honda-worldwide.net> are identical with those trademark registrations for the word HONDA alone and confusingly similar to those trademark registrations incorporating HONDA with some other word.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has never been a Honda dealer. The Panel finds also that the trademark HONDA is both a well-known trademark and also a famous trademark in accordance with the criteria recognized for these concepts respectively in the German context. It is harder in such a case, therefore, for a Respondent to show that it has a right or legitimate interest to such a trademark. That is because it is less likely that such a Respondent has chosen the trademark for the domains in ignorance of existing rights.
In this case the Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in and to the disputed domain names and, since the Respondent has not made any submissions to the contrary, the Panel finds in the Complainant’s favour on this issue.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In this case the Respondent has registered domain names which incorporate a famous trademark. The Respondent has apparently no connection with the Complainant. Further, the Respondent has used the domain names in an attempt to gain personal information from Honda dealers by reference to the Complainant’s trademark and in reliance upon the confidence which dealers have in the Complainant. In the absence of any contrary explanation from the Respondent for this conduct, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names with the intention of engaging in that activity. Therefore the Panel finds that the domain names were registered and used in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain names < honda-worldwide.com> and < honda-worldwide.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: December 12, 2005