WIPO

 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Socit Des Bains De Mer Et Du Cercle Des Etrangers A Monaco V. Iggi Networks Media Group

Case No. D2000-1324

 

1 The Parties

The Complainant is Socit des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers Monaco having its registered office at Place du Casino, Monte Carlo, MC 98000, Principaut de Monaco.

The Respondent is IGGI Networks Media Group, 7491 North Federal Highway C5-310 Boca Raton, Florida 33487, USA.

 

2 The Domain Name and Registrars

The domain names at issue [hereinafter the Domain Names] are: <casinodemonaco.net> and <casinoofmonaco.com>.

The Registrar of the Domain Name <casinodemonaco.net> is Bulkregister.Com, Inc.
7 East Redwood Street, Third Floor, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202, U.S.A.

The Registrar of the Domain Name <casinoofmonaco.com> is Dotster Inc.
1338 Commerce Ave., No. 202, Longview, WA, 98632, U.S.A.

 

3. Procedural History

On October 4, 2000 Complainant filed a Complaint via e-mail [hereinafter the Complaint] with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center [hereinafter the Center]. The Center received the hardcopy of the Complaint on October 5, 2000. Receipt of said Complaint was acknowledged by the Center in a letter to the Complainant dated October 9, 2000. In a letter dated October 9, 2000 the Center informed the Registrar, Bulkregister.Com Inc., that the Complaint had been submitted to the Center regarding the Domain Name "casinodemonaco.net", and asked for a verification of the registrant information. The said verification results from the Registrar were received on October 10, 2000. In a letter dated October 9, 2000 the Center informed the Registrar, Dotster Inc., that the Complaint had been submitted to the Center regarding the Domain Name "casinoofmonaco.com", and asked for a verification of the registrant information. The said verification results from the Registrar were received on October 10, 2000.

The Center then proceeded to verify that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy [hereinafter referred to as the ICANN Rules] and the World Intellectual Property Organisation Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy [hereinafter referred to as the WIPO Rules], including the payment of the requisite fees. The verification of compliance with the formal requirements was completed in the affirmative on October 19, 2000.

In a letter dated October 23, 2000 the Center informed the Respondent of the commencement of the proceeding as of October 23, 2000 and of the necessity of responding to the Complaint within 20 days. Evidence provided by the Center supports the finding that the Center acted diligently in its attempts to inform the Respondent of the proceeding.

In an e-mail dated November 3, 2000 the Respondent requested a thirty-day extension to submit its response to the Center. In an e-mail dated November 7, 2000 the Center, with the consent of the Complainant granted the Respondent a ten day extension to the deadline to submit its Response. The new deadline date was November 22, 2000.

In a letter sent November 24, 2000 the Center informed the Respondent that it was in default pursuant to the ICANN Rules and the WIPO Rules and that an administrative panel would be appointed based on the number of panelists designated by the Complainant.

On December 5, 2000 the Center informed the Parties that an administrative panel would be appointed. The Panel believes it was constituted in compliance with the ICANN Rules and the WIPO Rules and has also issued a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.

The Panel has reviewed the documentary evidence provided by the Complainant and the Panel agrees with the Centers assessment that the Complaint complies with the formal requirements of the ICANN Rules and the WIPO Rules.

The Panel has received no further submissions from either party since its formation.

The Panel is obliged to issue a decision on or prior to December 18, 2000 in the English language and is unaware of any other proceedings which may have been undertaken by the parties or others in the present matter.

 

4. Factual Background

The Complainant is a limited liability company, incorporated April 1, 1963, enrolled with the registry of companies under number 56 S 00523. The Complainant is the founder and manager of the Casino of Monte-Carlo, and has the monopoly for casino and gaming industries for the territory of the Principaut de Monaco.

From an e-mail received by the Center, it would appear that the Respondent seems to be in the process of wanting to offer and sell some kind of virtual casino franchises and advertising associated to it with offices in Boca-Raton, Florida, USA.

As shown by the evidence, the Respondent registered the Domain Names, <casinodemonaco.net> and <casinoofmonaco.com> respectively on or about April 8, 2000 and March 15, 2000. These Domain Names do not direct to a web site or other on-line presence despite having been registered over six months ago. The Domain Names when entered into an Internet search engine do not produce any web sites or holding pages.

The Complainant is the owner of the trademark "Casino de Monte-Carlo", filed in August 13, 1996 to the Monaco Trademark Office, covering many different products and services. The Complainant's trademark covers products and services in the field of computers and telecommunications, i.e., Internet communication services, labelled as equipment for data processing and computer , by Telecommunications, and by services of computer programming.

There is no relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant.The Respondent is not a Licensee of the Complainant nor has it otherwise obtained any authorisation to use the Complainants marks or apply for any Domain Names incorporating any of these marks.

 

5. Parties Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant maintains that the Respondent is a cybersquatter. The Domain Names do not direct to a web site or other on-line presence despite having been registered over 6 months ago. The Domain Names when entered into an Internet search engine do not produce any web sites or holding pages.

The Complainant continues by alleging that the Domain Names are almost identical and confusingly similar to the Complainants Casino de Monte Carlo trademark.

The Complainant alleges that in the Domain Name <casinoofmonaco.com>, the fact that "de" was translated into English in the Domain Name does not erase the strong similarity that exists with the Complainant's trademark, as the term "of" is being commonly understood by the vast majority of internet users, as the English translation of "de". The "Casino of" part of the Domain Name is thus similar to the "Casino de" part of the Complainants trademark.

Moreover the Complainant alleges that in the Domain Name <casinodemonaco.net>, the first two words of the Complainants trademark, "Casino de Monte-Carlo", are identically used in the Domain Name.

For the Domain Name, <casinoofmonaco.com> the Complainant alleges that this Domain Name is identical to its trademark, Casino de Monte-Carlo. The only disparity between the two terms is the fact that the Respondent replaced the word "de" by the word "of ", which is its English equivalent.

For both the Domain Names, <casinoofmonaco.com> and <casinodemonaco.net> the Complainant alleges that these Domain Names are identical to its trademark, "Casino de Monte-Carlo". The Complainant believes that the substitution of the term of the trademark, "Monte-Carlo", by the term "Monaco" in the Domain Names, does not suppress this strong similarity between the two terms, as it is very common to use one or the other term indifferently to designate the Principaut and thus they are synonyms.

The Complainant further alleges that this confusing similarity necessarily induces confusion amongst the public, between the Domain Names and the Casino of Monte-Carlo, over which the Complainant has a monopoly being consequently the sole company that can organise games and gambling in Monaco.

The Complainant alleges that in searching worldwide for signs that contain the terms "Casino" and "Monaco", and signs that contain the terms "Casino" and "Monte-Carlo", on the Compumark database, it appears that the Respondent does not own or use any trademark concerning these names, in any country world-wide.

The Complainant alleges that, the Respondent has no intellectual or commercial property rights over the <casinoofmonaco.com> and <casinodemonaco.net> names or any similar names.

The Complainant alleges the lack of legitimacy by stating that the Respondent has not used the Domain Names, by either developing a web site at this address or otherwise.

The Complainant alleges that the registration of the Domain Names, given the Complainants well known mark, is inherently deceptive and clearly done in bad faith with the intent to create confusion amongst the public.

The Complainant maintains that given the strong notoriety of the Complainants trademark, the Respondent could not ignore, at the time of registration that the registration of the Domain Names was made in fraud of the Complainants rights.

The Complainant continues to allege bad faith (pursuant to paragraph 4 (b) (iv) of the ICANN Policy) by stating that if the Respondent did in fact intend to use the Domain Names by developing web sites at these addresses, and given the strong notoriety of the Complainant's mark, as well as the fact that the Complainant has a monopoly for casino and gaming industries in Monaco/Monte-Carlo, the Complainant finds that by registering and then using the Domain Names, the Respondent will intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web sites, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the Respondent's web sites.

The Complainant is of the opinion that the Domain Names are so obviously connected with the Complainant and its products or services that there very use by someone with no connection with the Complainant suggests "opportunistic bad faith". (see Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas and Christiandior.net Case No. D2000-0226, Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, Maison Fond en 1772 v. The Polygenic Group Co. Case No. D2000-0163 and Charles Jourdan Holding AG v. AAIM Case No. D2000-0403)

B. Respondent

Notwithstanding the e-mail sent to the Center reflecting its corporate objectives, the Respondent has failed to file a response with the Center within the prescribed days even though an extension to submit a Response was granted by the Center.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

Pursuant to the ICANN Policy the Complainant must convince the Panel of three elements if it wishes to have the Domain Names transferred. It is incumbent on the Complainant to show:

i) that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which it holds rights; and

ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names; and

iii) that the Domain Names were registered and used in bad faith.

After having reviewed the Complainants allegations as well as all the evidence provided therewith, the Panel considers each of the three elements hereinafter.

 

Identical or Confusingly Similar to Trademark

The Complainant provided evidence to the effect that it was registered owner of the trademark Casino de Monte-Carlo prior to the registration of the Domain Names in dispute by the Respondent. It is the Panels opinion that the Domain Names registered by the Respondent, while not identical to the Complainants trademark, are confusingly similar to it.

(i) casinodemonaco.net

For the Domain Name, <casinodemonaco.net> the Panel agrees with the Complainants allegation that the first two words of the Respondents Domain Name are identical to the first two words in the Complainants trademark, Casino de Monte-Carlo.

(ii) casinoofmonaco.com

For the Domain Name, <casinoofmonaco.com> the Panel agrees with the Complainants allegation that the fact that "de" was translated into English as "of" in the Domain Name, does not erase the strong similarity that exists with the Complainant's trademark, Casino de Monte-Carlo.

For the same reasons set forth in WIPO Case No. D-2000-1332 and D-2000-1319, it is the Panels opinion that the Domain Names registered by the Respondent while not being identical to the Complainants trademark are, by the ideas that they suggest, confusingly similar to it. The "Casino" part of the Domain Names is identical to the first term in its trademark, Casino de Monte-Carlo. The "Monaco" part of the Domain Names is confusingly similar to the third term of its trademark, Casino de Monte-Carlo. The Panel believes that the substitution of the term of the trademark, "Monte-Carlo", by the term "Monaco" in the Domain Names does not suppress this strong similarity between the two terms, as it is very common to use one or the other term indifferently to designate the Principaut and thus, these are synonyms. Furthermore, in support of this confusing similarity the Panel notes that in the Petit Larousse Illustr 1982 p. 1532, Monte-Carlo is defined as "quartier de la Principaut de Monaco où se trouve le casino". Further on page 1529 Monaco is defined as "Principaut du littoral de la mditerrane: grand centre touristique: casino".

The Panel is also of the opinion that the Complainant has acquired substantial goodwill and reputation in relation to its business activities of organising games and gambling in Monaco as well as managing the Casino of Monte-Carlo. The Complainant provided evidence to the effect that it has the exclusive right in exploiting the aforementioned activities since 1863. This notoriety creates a strong affinity between the Complainant and the Domain Names which would further confuse the public as to who is affiliated to the Domain Names. The Panel, applying its judicial knowledge, is of the opinion that even though Monaco is the Principaut and Monte-Carlo is the city within this Principaut, these terms are used interchangeably by the public at large. The words "Monaco" and "Casino" used together create a strong similarity and impression that could easily induce the general public into believing that the Domain Names, the Domain Names proprietor and any web site operated from the Domain Names are associated with the Complainant.

In determining whether a Domain name creates confusion with a trademark, it is the Panels opinion that one has to take into account all of the circumstances including inter alia (i) the inherent distinctiveness of said trademark and the extent to which it has become known; (ii) the length of time that the trademark has been in use; (iii) the nature of the service, business or trade with which it is being associated; (iv) the degree of resemblance between the trademark and the Domain Name in appearance and sound or what is suggested by them.

Pursuant to the above mentioned reasons as well as the fact there has been no explanation or evidence offered by the Respondent to establish the contrary, the Panel is therefore of the opinion that the Complainant has met its burden of proof as established by paragraph 4(a)(i) of the ICANN Policy.

No Rights or Interest

Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the ICANN Policy inquires as to whether or not the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests vested in the Domain Names. Paragraph 4(c) provides examples of circumstances that can demonstrate the existence of such rights or legitimate interests: (i) use of, or preparations to use, the Domain Names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; (ii) the fact that the Respondent has commonly been known by the Domain Names; and (iii) legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Names.

The Panel is of the opinion that there is no evidence to support any finding of a right or legitimate interest in the Domain Names on behalf of the Respondent. Noteworthy is the fact that after having registered both Domain Names with two Registrars, no web sites have been created. The Respondent has not shown use of, or preparations to use, the Domain Names in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor has it attempted to show that it has commonly been known by the Domain Names nor has it attempted to show a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Names.

While the Complainant has met its burden to demonstrate that there is no legitimate use of the Domain Names by the Respondent, the latter has not met its burden to demonstrate the contrary. Consequently, as in LLS International vs. Mark Freeman, Case No. D-2000-1080 and Altavista Company v. Grandtotal Finances Ltd., Case No. D-2000-0848, the Panel finds it appropriate in this regard to draw an adverse inference from the Respondents failure to reply to the Complaint and detail any rights or legitimate interests it might have had in the Domain Names of the type defined in paragraph 4(c) of the ICANN Policy.

Bad Faith

Pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the ICANN Policy it is incumbent upon the Complainant to prove that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in Bad Faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the ICANN Policy provides a number of non-exhaustive circumstances which, if found to be present, are evidence of the registration and use of a Domain Name in bad faith. In particular, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the ICANN Policy holds that, if the circumstances indicate that by using the Domain Names the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his web site, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondents web site then this is evidence of bad faith registration and use on behalf of the Respondent.

The Panel is of the opinion that the present case is an illustration of the kind of bad faith which the ICANN Policy addresses at paragraph 4(b)(iv).

In the absence of any explanation on the part of the Respondent, there would appear to be an implied intent by the Respondent of an attempt to appropriate the goodwill of the Complainant and to cause confusion amongst anyone who became aware of the Domain Names into believing that these Domain Names, its proprietor or any potential web site, were associated with the Complainant, and to redirect traffic intended for the Complainant for its own purposes.

The Respondent has not yet constructed web sites for the Domain Names. The Panel is of the opinion that this passive holding of the Domain Names since their registration in question, combined with the lack of explanation or evidence provided by the Respondent to demonstrate its good faith in registering or using these Domain Names, all leads to an inference of bad faith, pursuant to paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the ICANN Policy, on the part of the Respondent. (See Telstra Corporation v. Nuclear Marshmallows, Case No. D-2000-003)

In these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent is engaged in a pattern of conduct in order to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its service mark from a corresponding Domain Name as referred to in paragraph 4(b)ii of the ICANN Policy.

Furthermore, the Panel is of the opinion that the Domain Names are so obviously connected with the Complainant and its services that there very use by someone with no connection with the Complainant suggests "opportunistic bad faith". (see Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas and Christiandior.net Case No. D2000-0226 and Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, Maison Fonde en 1772 v. The Polygenix Group Co., Case No. D2000-0163)

Therefore, pursuant to the above mentioned reasons the Panel is of the opinion that the Complainant has met the burden of proof and has proven that the Respondents actions have been in bad faith pursuant to paragraphs 4(b)(i) and 4(b)(iv) of the ICANN Policy.

 

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds:

- that the Domain Names registered by the Respondent are confusingly similar to the trademark to which the Complainant has rights;

- that the 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 by the Respondent in bad faith.

Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the ICANN Policy, the Panel orders that the registration of the Domain Names. <casinodemonaco.net>, <casinoofmonaco.com>.be transferred to the Complainant by the Registrar, Bulkregister.Com Inc. for <casinodemonaco.net> and by the Registrar, Dotster Inc. for <casinoofmonaco.com>

 


 

Jacques A. Lger, Q.C.
Sole Panelist

Dated: December 18, 2000