• Chetan Chadha

INDIA: Solvay S.A. wins domain name battle in India


SOLVAY S.A., the well renowned Belgian chemical company, reclaimed ownership of the domain name <solvay.co.in> by filing a complaint under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP). The sole arbitrator appointed in the matter decided the dispute in favor of the Complainant (SOLVAY S.A.) and decided that the disputed domain name <solvay.co.in> should be transferred to the Complainant.

Submissions:

The Complainant in its submissions stated that it is a large multinational company and has grown to become a global chemical and plastics group. The Complainant stated that it owns the domain name <solvay.com> since March 21, 1995 and its website hosted the said domain name which is accessible to the consumers worldwide including India. The Complainant affirmed that it had invested substantial time, money and efforts to advertise and promote the ‘SOLVAY’ mark. The Complainant argued that the disputed domain name was identical with and confusingly similar to its corporate name SOLVAY S.A., its domain name and its trademark ‘SOLVAY’. The Complainant argued that the Respondent had registered the disputed domain name to take unfair advantage of the goodwill and reputation associated with its mark and that the Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name which is evident from the Respondent trying to sell the disputed domain name or attract internet traffic based on the goodwill associated with its mark. The Complainant further argued that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith or was being used in bad faith as it creates a false association with its mark. The Complainant added that because it was a prior adopter and owner of the trademark and domain name <solvay.com>, the registration of the disputed domain name by the Respondent and attempting to sell it establishes bad faith. Further, the Complainant stated that the Respondent did not use the disputed domain name for any legitimate business but had put it up for sale.

Discussion and findings:

The Panel based its decision on the following points: -

- Identical or Confusingly Similar:

The Arbitrator was of the view that since the disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s ‘SOLVAY’ mark in its entirety, the disputed domain name is identical with or confusingly similar to a trademark ‘SOLVAY’ in which the Complainant has rights.

-Rights or Legitimate Interests:

In reference to the ground that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, the Arbitrator was of the opinion that the Complainant was successful in proving that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, as the Respondent had not taken part in these proceedings and the evidence filed by the Complainant established prior rights in the mark. Further, the Arbitrator was of the view that use of the Complainant’s mark in the disputed domain name was with the intention to exploit the fame associated with the Complainant’s trademark and such use was not bonafide.

-Registered and Used in Bad Faith:

The Arbitrator was of the view that the evidence submitted by the Complainant clearly established the Complainant’s prior adoption of the mark and its reputation and fame due to its extensive use worldwide. The Respondent had not used the disputed domain name for hosting a website but had offered the disputed domain name for sale based on the fame of the mark, which is recognised as bad faith.

In view of the above findings, the domain name was transferred in the name of the Complainant.


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