WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
BSA v. Paul Tweed
Case No. D2000-1401
1. The Parties
The Complainant is BSA, a French société anonyme having its registered office in Paris, France.
The Respondent is Mr. Paul Tweed, an individual with an address at PO BOX 391, Praha 1, 11121, Czech Republic.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The domain names at issue are "bridel.com" and "lanquetot.com". The domain names registrar is Network Solutions, Inc.
3. Procedural History
Complainant filed its complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") which was received by email on October 17, 2000, and in hard copy on October 18, 2000. Receipt of the complaint was acknowledged on October 19, 2000.
On October 25, 2000 the Center transmitted a request for registrar verification to Network Solutions, Inc. in connection with this case.
On October 29, 2000 Network Solutions, Inc. sent via email to the Center a verification response confirming that the Respondent is the registrant and that the contact for administrative, technical, zone and billing is the Respondent.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied 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 (the "Supplemental Rules") and notified Complainant by email that its Complaint was deficient. An amendment by the Complainant was received by email on October 31, 2000 and in hardcopy on November 7, 2000 resolving the deficiency. The Center completed the verification on November 8, 2000.
On November 9, 2000 the Center formally commenced this proceeding and notified Respondent that its response would be due by November 28, 2000. The notification was sent to the Respondent by courier and by email on November 9, 2000.
On November 15, 2000 the Center received an email from the Complainant attaching an email from the Respondent sent to the Complainant on November 5, 2000. This email has been considered part of the record for this proceeding.
Respondent did not file a response by the due date. The Center sent a notification of respondent default to the Respondent by email with a copy by email to the Complainant’s representative on November 30, 2000.
Complainant elected a single-member Panel. On December 6, 2000 after clearing for potential conflicts, the Center appointed Thomas H. Webster as the Panelist, and set December 19, 2000 as the deadline for issuance of a decision.
4. Factual Background
Because there is no response, the following facts are taken from the complaint and are generally accepted as true in the circumstances of this case.
"The BESNIER SA corporation (known as BSA as of 12 December 98) is an important company, which commercializes some of its products under the famous brand names BRIDEL and LANQUETOT. This is the reason why BSA is the holder of a great number of « BRIDEL » and « LANQUETOT » trademarks. These trademarks, either word marks or device marks, are duly registered over the world."
"On September 14, 1998, Mr. Paul TWEED registered the domain name BRIDEL.COM and on September 17, 1998, he registered the domain name LANQUETOT.COM."
An email of December 15, 1999 sent on behalf of the Respondent to the Complainant stated that:
"je suis chargé de vous transmettre la proposition suivante pour l’achat du nom de domaine BRIDEL.COM: - $ 20.000 Pouvez-vous être assez aimable pour nous communiquer votre réponse de manière à ce que nous la répercutions à Mr. Tweed."
Respondent states in its email of November 5, 2000 to the Complainant’s representative that it would have been easier and cheaper to sell the two domain names to the Complainant.
5. Parties Contentions
Complainant makes the following allegations. The factual elements of such allegations are generally accepted as true in the circumstances of this case in light of the Complainant's supporting documents and in the absence of a response from the Respondent.
In respect of the domain names being identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service in which the Complainant has rights:
"The number of registrations and the geographical coverage demonstrate the importance of the BRIDEL and LANQUETOT trademarks.
…the BSA company is the holder of the BRIDEL and the LANQUETOT trademarks, duly registered since 1968 for BRIDEL and 1993 for LANQUETOT."
…Mr. Paul TWEED purely and simply reproduced, in a strictly identical way, the BRIDEL and LANQUETOT trademarks, which belong to the Complainant."
(emphasis not added)
Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names and relies on the following elements:
"…the Complainant is the holder of the BRIDEL and LANQUETOT’s trademarks. These trademarks are well-known as it is demonstrate[d] above with the seniority of the trademarks, these spread out uses and the promotional effort, which prove their great notoriety in France and all over the world.
…To our knowledge, Mr. Paul TWEED: is not using the BRIDEL or LANQUETOT symbols, and has no BRIDEL or LANQUETOT trademarks registered under these names in particular in France and in Czech Republic.
…The BSA company has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use the BRIDEL or the LANQUETOT’trademarks and there is no relationship between the BSA company and Mr Paul TWEED.
…the web site BRIDEL.COM and LANQUETOT.COM are off-line whereas the registration of the domain names was made in 1998.
- Mr. Paul TWEED registered the domain names BRIDEL.COM and LANQUETOT.COM (identical to the Complainant’s trademarks) for the purpose of taking advantage of the BRIDEL and LANQUETOT’s notoriety…BRIDEL and LANQUETOT are very well-known especially in France, and Mr. Paul TWEED did not ignore this fact."
Complainant further alleges that the domain names were registered and used in bad faith by the Respondent based on the following elements:
"…BRIDEL and LANQUETOT Trademarks are distinctive trademarks and moreover have been extensively used so that they can be considered as quite well-known for the French and International average consumers.
The notoriety of the signs BRIDEL and LANQUETOT clearly shows that the Respondent registered the domain names BRIDEL.COM and LANQUETOT.COM knowingly and without carrying out any prior availability search.
…The Respondent registered two domain names, which are the identical reproduction of the two famous trademarks belonging to the Complainant.
…searches demonstrated that Mr. Paul TWEED registered forty-four domain names…and most of them reproduce some French well-known trademarks.
…As [with] these others 44 registrations, there are no websites attached to the domain names BRIDEL.COM and LANQUETOT.COM.
- that Mr Paul TWEED has little haste in making use of the said domain names and
- that his real intention is to sell back these domain names to their legitimate owners.
…after many negotiations, M Paul TWEED agreed to sell the domain name BRIDEL.COM for USD 20.000 (e-mail dated 15 December 1999)
…If M Paul TWEED had a real legitimate interest in registering the domain name BRIDEL.COM, he would never have accepted to sell it.
It is demonstrate that Mr. Paul TWEED has registered and used fraudulently the domain names BRIDEL.COM and LANQUETOT.COM on purpose of selling them and with bad faith, strictly reproducing the trademarks over which the Complainant holds rights. " (emphasis not added)
As noted above, the only response received from the Respondent was the email of November 15, 2000 sent to the Complainant’s representative. The Respondent did not contest the above allegations of the Complainant.
6. Discussion and Findings
The burden for the Complainant under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is to prove:
(i) That the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) That the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) That the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
A. Similarity of the Domain Name and Trademark.
Complainant has established its rights in the trademarks "BRIDEL" and "LANQUETOT" registered in France and internationally and that the Respondent has not registered any such trademarks in Czechoslovakia: see Chanel, Inc. v. Estco Technology Group, Case No. D2000-0413 (WIPO, Sept. 18, 2000).
With respect to confusion, this panelist finds that bridel.com and lanquetot.com are nearly identical to the trademarks bridel and Lanquetot registered by the Complainant. The addition of the suffix "com" is not sufficient to avoid confusion. This is particularly so in the internet given the widespread use of "com" as an indication of commercial nature of the domain name: see BIC Deutschland GmbH & Co KG v. Paul Tweed, Case No. 2000-0418 (WIPO, June 20, 2000). Therefore, the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement.
B. Respondent's Rights and Legitimate Interests.
The Complainant has established that these trademarks are well known in France and internationally. Complainant has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use any of its trademarks or to apply for any domain name incorporating the trademarks.
Respondent registered the domain names in September 1998 and they are still not in use.
By not submitting a response, the Respondent has failed to demonstrate circumstances such as those set out in Section 4(c) of the Policy showing that he has rights or a legitimate interest in use of the domain names.
Therefore, this panelist concludes on the basis of the evidence of the Complainant that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names.
C. Bad Faith Registration and Use.
Annex H of the complaint shows a large number of domain names that appear to be registered by the Respondent, some of which simply reproduce known French trademarks. Therefore, there appears to be a pattern of such conduct that is evidence of bad faith under Section 4 (b) (ii) of the Policy.
The two domain names at issue appear not to have a website. Registration of domain names incorporating third party trademarks with no on-line presence was taken as evidence of bad faith in a decision relating to the Respondent: see BIC Deutschland GmbH & Co KG v. Paul Tweed, Case No. 2000-0418 (WIPO, June 20, 2000). Despite that, in this case the Respondent has not responded to these allegations.
In addition, as noted above, the Respondent has held the domain names for over two years and yet does not appear to have made any use of it. Nor has the Respondent adduced any evidence that he is preparing to use the domain names. This inaction has been found to be evidence of bad faith as to registration and use of a domain name: see Telstra Corp. v. Nuclear Marshmallows, Case No. D2000-0003 (WIPO, Feb. 18, 2000), Metabolife International v. Robert Williams, Case No. D2000-0630 (WIPO, Sept. 5, 2000).
Complainant contends that the Respondent was prepared to sell bridel.com for US$ 20,000. In an email of November 5, 2000 the Respondent states that "it just would have been easier and cheaper to buy this two domain names." This type of offer to sell domain names is clear evidence of bad faith on the part of the holder of the domain names: see Section 4 (b) (i) of the Policy and Metabolife International v. Robert Williams, Case No. D2000-0630 (WIPO, Sept 5, 2000). It also suggests that the Respondent believed that the Complainant would be willing to pay a significant amount for the domain names based on the notoriety of the Complainant’s trademarks, despite the Respondent's lack of legitimate interest in it.
The panelist therefore concludes that the Respondent registered and used the domain names in bad faith under Section 4 (a) (iii) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, the panelist holds:
(a) that the domain names bridel.com and lanquetot.com are confusingly similar to the trademarks BRIDEL and LANQUETOT in which the Complainant has rights;
(b) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names; and
(c) the Respondent registered and has used the domain names in bad faith.
Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(i) of the Policy, the domain names bridel.com and lanquetot.com should be transferred to the Complainant.
Thomas H. Webster
Dated: December 11, 2000