‘axa.gr’ cancelled on grounds of bad faith

 The National Telecommunications and Post Committee, the authority responsible for the administration of ‘.gr’ domain names, has ordered that the domain name ‘axa.gr’ be removed from the ‘.gr’ register (Case 56544/30-10-2007, August 26 2008, published on September 8 2008).
The case arose from a dispute between AXA Insurance Company and an individual over the domain name ‘axa.gr’.
AXA registered its AXA trademarks in Greece as early as 1985. Recently, it decided to enter the Greek insurance market by joining forces with Alpha Bank, one of the largest banks in Greece, and acquired Alpha Insurance, Alpha Bank’s insurance subsidiary. However, it discovered that an individual had registered the domain name ‘axa.gr’ in 2004. During the proceedings before the committee, the registrant provided several interesting explanations as to why he had chosen this particular domain name and why he should be allowed to retain it.
First, the registrant argued that the domain name consisted of the first three letters of the Greek region of Achaia, which is written ‘Αχαΐα’ in Greek. The registrant claimed that he performed business activities in this region and that he had included listings from the Achaia region on his website. AXA had no difficulty in rebutting this argument because the name AXA is pronounced ‘aksa’, while the first two syllables of the word ‘Αχαΐα’ are pronounced ‘acha’. Further, the registrant provided no evidence to establish a connection between his business and this particular region (which, as a geographical region, enjoyed a certain degree of protection).
The registrant also argued that he had registered the domain name in good faith, alleging that AXA was not well known in Greece in 2004. However, AXA provided evidence that:
  • it had extensively promoted its trademark and company name in Greece; and
  • the AXA mark distinguished the goods and services of AXA from those of other companies.
The committee agreed that the registrant ought to have been aware of the presence of AXA on the market at the time of filing the application for the registration of ‘axa.gr’.
Consequently, the committee concluded that the domain name had been registered in bad faith and ordered the cancellation of ‘axa.gr’.
Eleni Lappa, Dr Helen Papaconstantinou, John Filias & Associates, Athens

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