WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Enrico Villa
Case No. D2000-0721
1. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is Louis Vuitton Malletier, located at 2 rue du Pont Neuf, in Paris 75034 Cedex 01, France, represented by Patrice de Candé, Avocat, with offices at 29 rue Marbeuf, 75008 Paris, France, hereinafter the "Complainant".
Respondent is Enrico Villa, a.k.a. Me, with address at Via Golasecca 12, Sesto Calende, Varese 21018, Italy, hereinafter the "Respondent".
2. Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name at issue is "louisvuittoncup2003.org", registered on March 17, 2000, hereinafter referred to as the "Domain Name". The registrar is Registrars.com.
3. Procedural History
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the Center) received the Complainant’s complaint on July 3, 2000, (electronic version) and July 6, 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 July 24, 2000.
The Center transmitted via email to Registrars.com a request for registrar verification in connection with this case. Registrars.com transmitted via email to the Center its verification response, confirming that the registrant is Me and that the administrative, technical and billing contact is Villa, Enrico.
Having verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Policy and the Rules, the Center transmitted on July 24, 2000, to the Respondent and to Registrars.com, Notification of Complaint and Commencement of the Administrative Proceeding, via post/courier and e-mail, in accordance with the following contact details:
Me / Villa, Enrico
via golasecca 12
sesto calende, varese 21018
Phone: +39 0335 6939093
The Center advised that the Response was due by August 12, 2000. However, the Response was submitted on August 20, 2000.
On August 22, 2000, in view of the Complainant’s designation of a single panelist, the Center invited Mr. Geert Glas to serve as a panelist.
Having received on August 23, 2000, Mr. Geert Glas’ 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 Mr. Geert Glas was formally appointed as the Sole Panelist. 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 late response, the evidence presented, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is the owner of numerous trademark registrations in various countries for the term "Louis Vuitton". Copies of those trademark registrations are attached to the complaint. These are:
The French verbal mark n° 1 627 892, registered since November 16, 1990, with the Industrial Property National Institute (INPI) for all classes of products and services 1 to 42 of the international classification.
The United States verbal mark n° 1990760, registered on August 6, 1996, for products in classes 14, 16, 18, 24 and 25.
The Italian verbal mark n° 465162, registered on February 13, 1987, for products in classes 9 and 12.
The International verbal mark originally registered on August 6, 1968, and successively renewed, the last renewal made on June 19, 1995, under n°R416052 for products in classes 3, 6, 8, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28 and 34, which designates Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Algeria, Egypt, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Monaco, Portugal, Rumania, Saint Marian, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Georgia, Macedonia and Benelux.
The Community trademark, n°000015610 registered March 16, 1998, for products in classes 16, 18 and 25.
Moreover, Complainant registered the following domain names with Network Solutions:
- louisvuittoncup2000.com, on November 24, 1999;
- louisvuittoncup2000.org, on November 30, 1999; and
- louisvuittoncup.com, on December 20, 1999.
Complainant organizes a regatta, which is known under the denomination "Louis Vuitton Cup", the winning crew of which is awarded a trophy named "Coupe Louis Vuitton". It seems that Complainant also puts derivative products on the market, carrying the name "louisvuitton cup 2000".
On March 17, 2000, Respondent registered the Domain Name.
Prior to this proceeding, the parties exchanged various letters and emails, from which it appears that Respondent declared that he did not intend to interfere with Complainant’s activities, and therefore was ready to transfer the Domain Name for the reimbursement of his registration costs. However, shortly before the parties could come to an agreement, Respondent notified Complainant that he was going on vacation during four weeks and that he would think about the deal, since he just had been contacted by another person who was also interested in acquiring the Domain Name. Subsequently to this message, Complainant decided to lodge the present case without waiting for Respondent’s final decision.
It should also be noted that on March 15, 2000, Respondent registered the domain name louisvuittoncup2003.com, which is the subject matter of WIPO case n°D2000-0722.
There is no relation between Respondent and Complainant, and Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, nor has Respondent otherwise obtained an authorization to use Complainant’s trademarks.
The Domain Name does not resolve to any web page.
5. Parties Contentions
Complainant contends that Respondent has registered the Domain Name which is confusingly similar to Complainant’s "Louis Vuitton" trademark, that Respondent have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name and that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
According to Complainant, the Domain Name creates a confusion in the mind of consumer who will necessarily consider that the so-called site is organized by Complainant in order to promote the regatta organized under this name and in relation to which products are sold under the "Louis Vuitton" marks.
Consequently, Complainant requires the transfer of the Domain Name registration.
According to Respondent, he registered the Domain Name in good faith. Respondent explains that he is a fan of the regatta sponsored by Complainant. He claims that his intention is to create an unofficial web site relating to this regatta, providing a full range of alternative information to every fan in the world. Since he is a student, he did not have the intention to transfer the Domain Name, which he bought for $70.
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."
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 or confusingly similar to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(2) that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or 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 Name is "louisvuittoncup2003.org".
"Louis Vuitton" is a registered trademark of Complainant.
As "Louis Vuitton" is the core and distinctive element of the Domain Name, the Administrative Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademark "Louis Vuitton" of Complainant.
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, nor has he ever been known by this name.
Respondent asserts that his intention is to create an unofficial web site relating to the regatta sponsored by Complainant providing a full range of alternative information to every fan in the world. However, it should be noted that no evidence whatsoever has been brought to sustain this assertion.
Respondent certainly has every right to be a fan of the regatta sponsored by Complainant and to freely express and share his interest therein. This right does however not constitute a legitimate right or interest in the Domain Name as such which solely consists of the official name of the regatta event and the year it is taking place, without any other distinguishing elements or add-ons.
The Administrative Panel therefore finds that Respondent has no legitimate right or interest in the Domain Name.
c. Registration and Use in Bad Faith
Several facts have to be taken into consideration when assessing the absence/presence of bad faith in this matter:
1. "Louis Vuitton" is a trademark from Complainant.
2. The Domain Name does not resolve to any web page.
3. Respondent clearly knew and knows the "Louis Vuitton Cup", since he declared to be a fan of this competition.
4. Respondent declared that he did not want to interfere with Complainant’s activities but wanted to create an unofficial site.
5. It appears from the emails exchanged between the parties that Respondent was inclined to transfer the Domain Name to Complainant in exchange for the reimbursement of his registration costs.
This is evidenced by the email of May 18, 2000, in which Respondent declared:
"Le ripeto che non mi sembra di interferire con l’attivitŕ di Louis Vuitton e aspetto una sua idea visto che io ho speso I soldi della registrazione e non intendo regalarli a un marchio che certamente non ha bisogno dei miei 70$.", meaning in English: "I repeat that it does not seem to me that I interfere with Louis Vitton's activity and I am waiting for your propositions considering the fact that I have spent money on the registration and I have no intention to give it away to a trademark that certainly does not need my $70."
Subsequent to the answer of Complainant requesting the transfer of the Domain Name free of charge, Respondent added:
"…le chiedo il motivo della negazione di questo dovuto rimborso.", the translation of which is "I ask the reason for denying the reimbursement that you owe."
Subsequently, the parties made arrangements for the transfer of the Domain Name to Complainant, which is evidenced by the email of June 6, 2000, from Complainant’s representative to Respondent. However Respondent indicated that he had received an offer to purchase the Domain Name from another party and that he needed to contemplate about the transfer of the Domain Name. It is important to point out that while Respondent clearly knew of Complainant’s trademark, Respondent did not rule out the possibility of selling the Domain Name to a third party.
When registering the Domain Name, Respondent knowingly chose a name, which is confusingly similar to the trademark of Complainant. Respondent could have chosen a domain name adequately reflecting both the object and independent nature of its site, as evidenced today in thousands of domain names. By failing to do so, and by knowingly choosing a domain name which solely consists of the name of the regatta event sponsored by Complainant and the year the event is organized, Respondent has intentionally created a situation which is at odds with the legal rights and obligations of the parties. The fact that he indicates to be entertaining an offer from a third party to acquire the Domain Name, is an additional element from which this bad faith can be deduced.
In conclusion and in view of the above, it is the Panel’s opinion that Respondent registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
In light of the foregoing, the Administrative Panel decides that the Domain Name "louisvuittoncup2003.org" registered by Respondent is confusingly similar to the trademark of Complainant, that Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Name, and that Respondent registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
Accordingly, pursuant to Paragraph 4, i of the Policy, the Administrative Panel requires that the registration of the Domain Name "louisvuittoncup2003.org" be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: October 13, 2000