The Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club Limited v. Dave Bantock
Case No. D2018-1831
1. The Parties
The Complainant is The Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club Limited of Brighton, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”), represented by Stevens and Bolton LLP, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is Dave Bantock of Brighton, United Kingdom.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <brightonseagulls.club>, <brightonseagulls.com>, <brightonseagulls.info> and <brightonseagulls.net> (the “Domain Names”) are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 9, 2018. On August 10, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On August 13, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on August 14, 2018, 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 amendment to the Complaint on August 15, 2018.
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” 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 August 20, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 9, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 11, 2018.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on October 2, 2018. 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.
The Respondent sent emails to the Center on October 3, 8, 13 and 17, 2018 stating that he did not think he needed to respond to the Complaint because he was in discussion with the Complainant to sell <brightonseagulls.club> and <brightonseagulls.com> and stating that he did not own <brightonseagulls.info> or <brightonseagulls.net>.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is an English football team currently playing in the Premier League, the top tier of professional football in England and Wales. It was founded in 1901 and is nicknamed and widely known as the “Seagulls”. The Complainant enjoys extensive national and international media coverage. Its opening game against Manchester City FC last season was broadcast to over 190 countries. Its matches are regularly broadcast across Sky Sports with further coverage on the BBC and other domestic and international channels. The Complainant has its own TV channel known as “Seagulls TV”.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of numerous trademarks comprising BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION and SEAGULLS, including UK trademark number 258445 BRIGHON & HOVE ALBION (registered on October 28, 2011) and UK trademark number 2584437 SEAGULLS (registered on April 6, 2012).
The Domain Names were registered by the Respondent between March 6 and July 18, 2017. The registrations of <brightonseagulls.info> and <brightonseagulls.net> have expired but are subject to Registrar lock pending the outcome of this Complaint. The Respondent has an address in Brighton around 9 miles from the Complainant’s stadium. He has variously advertised the Domain Names for sale on a number of websites for prices between GBP 500 and GBP 50,000. The Domain Names all resolve to a parking page of the Registrar.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to its BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION and SEAGULLS trademarks, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names, and that the Respondent registered and is using the Domain Names in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions, save for the emails to the Center referred to above.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Names the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names; and
(iii) the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has uncontested rights in its BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION and SEAGULLS marks, both by virtue of its many trademark registrations and as a result of the goodwill and reputation acquired through its widespread use of the marks over very many years. Ignoring the generic Top-Level Domains (“gTLDs”) “.com”, “.info”, “.net” and “.club”, the Domain Names comprise a combination of the geographic term “brighton” – which is both the location of the Complainant football club and part of its name – and “seagulls” – the Complainant club’s nickname by which it is generally known, and its registered trademark. In the view of the Panel, the combination of part of the BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION mark and the entirety of the SEAGULLS mark clearly give rise to confusing similarity between the Complainant’s marks (and in particular the SEAGULLS mark) and the Domain Names. Accordingly, the Panel finds that all the Domain Names are confusingly similar to a trademark or trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent could have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names. The Respondent has no connection with the Complainant and is not authorized in any way to use the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent has not made any active use of the Domain Names but has merely offered them for sale at substantial prices well in excess of his out of pocket costs. The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the Complaint or to take any steps to counter the prima facie case established by the Complainant. The Panel cannot conceive of any legitimate use to which the Respondent could put the Domain Names. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In light of the nature of the Domain Names and the location of the Respondent, the Panel is in no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its rights in its BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION and SEAGULLS marks in mind when it registered the Domain Names. The Respondent has merely offered the Domain Names for sale at substantial prices well in excess of the Respondent’s costs directly related to the Domain Names. The Panel is in no doubt that this amounts to paradigm bad faith registration and use for the purposes of the Policy.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names <brightonseagulls.club>, <brightonseagulls.com>, <brightonseagulls.info> and <brightonseagulls.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Ian Lowe Sole Panelist Date: October 18, 2018
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