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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Sociйtй AIR FRANCE v. Ted Chen

Case No. D2007-0528

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Sociйtй AIR FRANCE, Roissy, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Ted Chen, Fremont, California, United States of America.

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The disputed domain names <airfrancebooking.info>, <airfranceticket.info>, <airfrancetickets.info>, and <flightairfrance.info> are registered with Moniker Online Services, LLC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 5, 2007. On April 10, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Moniker Online Services, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On April 11, 2007, Moniker Online Services, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant of each of the disputed domain names and providing the contact details for the administrative and technical contact. The Center verified that 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 April 13, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 3, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 7, 2007.

The Center appointed Andrew D. S. Lothian as the sole panelist in this matter on May 11, 2007. 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 a limited company registered under the laws of France. It is one of the world’s major airline companies, tracing its origins back to 1933. The Complainant’s AIR FRANCE trademark is well-known throughout the world and enjoys a wide scope of protection. This has been recognised in numerous WIPO UDRP cases including Sociйtй Air France v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2005-1337; Sociйtй Air France v. Alvaro Collazo, WIPO Case No. D2004-0446; Sociйtй Air France v. Alvaro Collazo, WIPO Case No. D2003-0417 and Sociйtй Air France v. Kitchkulture, WIPO Case No. D2002-0158.

The Complainant is the owner of a wide variety of registered trademarks in many countries worldwide consisting of or incorporating the words “Air France” including French trademarks No. 1,703,113 of October 31, 1991 and No. 99,811,269 of September 6, 1999 and US trademark No. 0610072 of August 2, 1955.

The Complainant owns several domain name registrations incorporating its AIR FRANCE trademark, including <airfrance.com>; <airfranceticket.com>; <airfrancereservation.com>; <airfrancereservations.com>; <airfranceflight.com>; and <airfranceflights.com> which are pointed to its web portal at “www.airfrance.com”.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain names as follows: <airfranceticket.info> was registered on December 5, 2006; <airfrancetickets.info> and <flightairfrance.info> were registered on December 11, 2006; and <airfrancebooking.info> was registered on December 15, 2006.

Screenshots provided by the Complainant demonstrate that the disputed domain names were each used to point to a website which hosted advertising links relating to flights and travel, the majority of which were not directly relative to the Complainant’s business. The advertising links had been discontinued by the date of this decision although in other respects the associated websites were the same as shown in the Complainant’s screenshots.

 

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

In summary, the Complainant’s contentions are:

The disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s AIR FRANCE trademark which is entirely reproduced in each one, ignoring white space as is customary with domain names. The disputed domain names combine the Complainant’s trademark with the words “ticket”, “tickets”, “flight” and “booking”; these terms refer to the Complainant’s main business and do not eliminate the risk of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark which is the only distinctive element of the disputed domain names.

The Complainant cites three previous cases, in which it was noted that the mere addition of a generic or descriptive term to an otherwise distinctive or well-known trademark does not serve to distinguish the relative domain name from that trademark:

Sociйtй Air France v. Patrick Ory, WIPO Case No. D2003-0628 in respect of <airfranceairlines.com>;

Sociйtй Air France v. Domain Active Pty Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2004-0993 in respect of <airfrancereservations.com>; and

Sociйtй Air France v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2005-1337 in respect of <airfranceflights.com> and other domain names.

In each of these cases the appointed Panel had also noted the potential for confusion resulting from the fact that the generic term added to the Complainant’s trademark reflected the industry in which the Complainant is active.

The Complainant asserts that the Respondent should be considered as having no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names as it is not related in any way to the Complainant’s business, it is not one of its agents, it does not carry out any activity for or have any business with it; it is not currently and has never been known by the disputed domain names; and the Complainant has granted no licence or authorisation to the Respondent to make any use or apply for registration of the disputed domain names.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names in order to take advantage of the Complainant’s well-known AIR FRANCE trademark and to confuse and divert Internet users to competing websites in the field of tourism and travel through a “pay per click” domain parking solution. The Complainant submits that such use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy, nor is it a non-commercial or fair use under paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain names in bad faith. The Complainant indicates that the use of the Complainant’s trademark with generic terms relative to the Complainant’s industry within the disputed domain names demonstrates that the Respondent had the Complainant’s trademark, fame and reputation in mind at the point of registration. The Complainant states that the Respondent’s only purpose in making the registrations was to generate commercial gain by intentionally taking advantage of Internet traffic and diverting Internet users to other websites in the field of tourism and travel through hyperlinks; this constituted registration in bad faith and the Respondent’s subsequent use of the disputed domain names for this purpose also constituted use in bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant is required under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy to prove that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights. Given its extensive trading history and registered trademark portfolio the Panel has no hesitation in finding that the Complainant has established rights in its AIR FRANCE trademark. The disputed domain names are not identical to this trademark in that each reproduces the trademark as the dominant component of the domain name together with a generic and descriptive word, namely “ticket”, “tickets”, “flight” and “booking” respectively, each of which relates to the commercial field in which the Complainant is active.

The Complainant’s AIR FRANCE trademark is well-known. The addition of a descriptive word to this mark, as is found in each of the disputed domain names, fails to distinguish the domain names from the mark. Furthermore, the association of the disputed domain names with the Complainant’s mark (and relative potential for confusion) is reinforced by the relevance of each of the generic terms to the sphere of the Complainant’s commercial activities. The lack of white space in the disputed domain names is not significant, being a technical requirement of the domain name system, and likewise the generic top level domain “.com” may be disregarded as wholly generic. On this comparison, the Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant is required under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy to prove that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.

According to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, a Respondent may establish its rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:

“(i) before any notice to you [Respondent] of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the Domain Name or a name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) you [Respondent] (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the Domain Name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you [Respondent] are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.”

As the Respondent did not respond to the Complaint, it did not submit any evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in any of the disputed domain names. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no such rights or legitimate interests and submits that the Respondent is not related in any way to the Complainant’s business and that the Complainant has granted no licence or authorisation to the Respondent to make any use, or apply for registration of the disputed domain names.

The Complainant goes on to assert that the disputed domain names have been registered by the Respondent in order to take advantage of the Complainant’s well-known trademark to confuse and divert Internet users to competing websites in the field of tourism and travel through a “pay per click” domain parking solution. The Complainant produces screenshots to demonstrate its assertions as noted in the factual background above and asserts that this use is neither a bona fide offering of goods or services under paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy, nor a non-commercial or fair use in terms of paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy.

Given the nature of the various websites associated with the disputed domain names the Panel considers it most likely that the Respondent either was receiving or intended to receive “pay per click” revenue from them. This is clearly a commercial use but it is not a bona fide offering of goods or services, trading directly as it does in the case of each disputed domain name upon the fame of the Complainant’s trademark. The use of the disputed domain names in such a manner cannot, in the Panel’s mind, give rise to any conceivable rights or legitimate interests on the part of the Respondent. The fact that the Respondent may have recently removed or discontinued the advertising links, most probably upon notice of this Complaint, is not of any particular relevance.

In these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant is required under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy to prove that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain names in bad faith.

In the present case, the Complainant indicates that the use within the disputed domain names of the Complainant’s trademark coupled with generic terms relative to the Complainant’s industry demonstrates that the Respondent had the Complainant’s trademark, fame and reputation in mind at the point of registration and that this constitutes registration in bad faith. The Complainant also points to the Respondent’s use of the websites associated with the disputed domain names to capture Internet traffic intended for the Complainant and divert this to other websites in the field of tourism and travel. The Complainant submits that this constitutes use in bad faith.

It is clear to the Panel that the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain names was made with the intention of targeting the fame of the Complainant’s trademark for revenue generating purposes arising from the “pay per click” websites. The Panel is also satisfied that, in terms of Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location.

The circumstances surrounding the Respondent’s conduct are therefore indicative of registration and use of the disputed domain names in bad faith. The Respondent did not file a Response which might have brought evidence of any good faith activity to the Panel’s attention and indeed the Panel cannot conceive of any potential good faith activity on the part of the Respondent concerning the disputed domain names.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain names in bad faith.

7. Decision

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, <airfrancebooking.info>, <airfranceticket.info>, <airfrancetickets.info>, and <flightairfrance.info> be transferred to the Complainant.


Andrew D. S. Lothian
Sole Panelist

Dated: May 25, 2007

 

Источник информации: https://www.internet-law.ru/intlaw/udrp/2007/d2007-0528.html

 

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