WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin v. Net-Promotion, Inc.
Case No. D2000-0347
1. The Parties
Complainant is Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, 12 Rue de Temple, 51100 Reims, France, represented by Georges Nahitchevansky, Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C., 866 United Nations Plaza, New York, New York 10017, U.S.A., hereinafter "Complainant".
Respondent is Net-Promotion, Inc., 1706 Front Street, Suite 591, Lynden, Washington, U.S.A., hereinafter "Respondent".
2. Domain Name and Registrar
The domain names at issue are "champagneclicquot.com", "champagne-clicquot.com", "champagnecliquot.com", and "champagne-cliquot.com", hereinafter referred to as the "Domain Names". The registrar is Network Solutions, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the Center) received the Complainantís complaint on April 27, 2000 (electronic version) and April 28, 2000 (hard copy). The Center verified that the complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Policy), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Rules), and the Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the Supplemental Rules). Complainant made the required payment to the Center. The formal date of the commencement of this administrative proceeding is May 4, 2000.
On May 2, 2000, the Center transmitted via e-mail to Network Solutions Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with this case. On May 3, 2000, Network Solutions Inc. transmitted via e-mail to the Center, Network Solutionsí Verification Response, confirming that the Respondent is the registrant, and that S. B. is simultaneously the administrative, technical, zone and billing contact.
Having verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Policy and the Rules, the Center transmitted on May 4, 2000, to Respondent and to S. B., Notification of Complaint and Commencement of the Administrative Proceeding, via post/courier, facsimile and e-mail, in accordance with the following contact details:
1706 Front Street, Suite 591
via codussi, 14
Bergamo, IT 24100
2, Avenue des Calanques Le Calendal
Cassis FR 13260
It appears that Respondentís address was changed during the time that Complainant consulted Network Solutionsí database, and Network Solutionsí Verification Response to the Center. However, since the complaint has been transmitted to the old as well as the new address, the Administrative Panel finds that Respondent has been sufficiently informed of this proceeding.
The Center advised that the Response was due by May 24, 2000. However, no response was sent. Accordingly, the Center issued a Notification of Respondent Default on May 26, 2000.
On May 29, 2000, in view of the Complainantís designation of a single panelist, the Center invited M. Geert Glas to serve as a panelist.
Having received on May 30, 2000, M. Geert Glasí Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, the Center transmitted to the parties a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel and Projected Decision Date, in which M. Geert Glas was formally appointed as the Sole Panelist. The Projected Decision Date was June 14, 2000. The Sole Panelist finds that the Administrative Panel was properly constituted and appointed in accordance with the Rules and Supplemental Rules.
The Administrative Panel shall issue its Decision based on the Complaint, the evidence presented, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.
4. Factual Background
The complaint is based upon the Complainantís trademark rights in the trademark "Veuve Clicquot". Complainant points out that especially the word "Clicquot" is claimed, "Veuve" being a regular noun which means "Widow" in the French language.
It appears from an e-mail sent on May 3, 2000, by Network Solutions Inc. to the Center, that Respondent is the registrant of the Domain Names. Respondent registered "champagne-cliquot.com" and "champagnecliquot.com" on October 26, 1999, and "champagne-clicquot.com" and "champagneclicquot.com" on November 11, 1999. According to Network Solutionís database, Respondent also registered an impressive amount of other domain names, such as mumm-reims.com, champagnemoet.com, luisvuitton.com, which are not at issue here but which include words identical or confusingly similar to famous trademarks.
There is no relationship between Respondent and Complainant, and Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, nor has he otherwise obtained an authorization to use Complainantís marks.
The Domain Names are all linking to the url http://www.nocreditcard.com/index.ncc?login=incontrarsi2. The website offers under the title "Uncensored Hot Site" services of an explicit sexual nature ("video hard", "XXX photos"Ö) some of which are described as "forbidden on the public web".
5. Parties Contentions
Complainant contends that Respondent has registered the Domain Names which are identical or confusingly similar to Complainantís "Veuve Clicquot" trademarks, that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names and that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Consequently, Complainant requires the transfer of the Domain Name registrations to the Complainant.
No response has been submitted.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Administrative Panel as to the principles the Administrative Panel is to use in determining the dispute: "A Panel shall decide a Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
Applied to this case, Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(1) that the Domain Name registered by the Respondent is identical to the trademark in which the Complainant has right; and,
(2) that the Respondent has no legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and,
(3) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Domain Names are "champagneclicquot.com", "champagne-clicquot.com", "champagnecliquot.com", and "champagne-cliquot.com".
"Veuve Clicquot" is a registered trademark of the Complainant.
In view of the above, the Administrative Panel finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the trademark "Veuve Clicquot" of the Complainant, especially since Complainant has brought considerable evidence of the famous and distinctive character of the term "Clicquot", and also in regard of the fact that this term is always associated with the word "champagne", a product for which Complainantís trademark is famous and distinctive.
b. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted Respondent to use any of its trademarks or to apply for any domain name incorporating any of those marks. In addition to that, it appears that Respondent has not registered nor used the name "Clicquot" as a trademark, nor has he ever been known by this name.
By not submitting a Response, Respondent has failed to invoke any circumstances which could demonstrate, pursuant to paragraph 4c of the Policy, any rights or legitimate interest in the Domain Names.
The Administrative Panel therefore finds that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name.
c. Registration and Use in Bad Faith
Several facts have to be taken into consideration:
1. When registering the Domain Name, Respondent knowingly and purposefully chose a name which is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of Complainant.
2. It appears from an e-mail (Exhibit L) sent by S. B. that Respondentís purpose was to register the Domain Names in order to subsequently sell them to Complainant or any other third party. Indeed, the e-mail states in relevant part "yes, we are the owner of domain ChampagneKrug.com, we are interested to sell this domain and many others too. Please make an offer to purchase and we will contact you very soon. We have just received some interesting offer about them so please contact me by
e-mail as soon as possible". The e-mail contains a list at the end:
4. Respondent also registered other domain names including other famous trademarks.
5. Respondent did not file any response.
6. The use made by Respondent of the Domain Names, as illustrated above, is for linking purposes only.
In consideration of the facts above stated, the Administrative Panel finds that circumstances are present indicating that Respondent has registered or acquired the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling, or otherwise transferring it to Complainant and has registered the Domain Names in order to prevent Complainant as the owner of the trademark "Veuve Clicquot" and as champagne producer from reflecting his mark in a corresponding domain name. Moreover, Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct.
In addition to that, by using the Domain Names, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his web site or other on-line location. Indeed, even if it clearly appears, with regard to the content of the first web page to which the Domain Names are linked, that Complainant is not related to the web site, Respondentís undeniable intent is nevertheless to take a free ride on the famous and distinctive character of Complainantís trademark and activity.
In conclusion and in view of the above, the Administrative Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
In light of the foregoing, the Administrative Panel decides that the Domain Names "champagneclicquot.com", "champagne-clicquot.com", "champagnecliquot.com", and "champagne-cliquot.com" registered by Respondent are confusingly similar to the trademark of Complainant, that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Names, and that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used by Respondent in bad faith.
Accordingly, pursuant to Paragraph 4, i of the Policy, the Administrative Panel requires that the registration of the Domain Names "champagneclicquot.com", "champagne-clicquot.com", "champagnecliquot.com", and "champagne-cliquot.com" be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: June 14, 2000