WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Meon Travel Limited v. Lawrence Snare
Case No. D2004-0831
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Meon Travel Limited, Crawley, West Sussex, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Marks & Clerk Intellectual Property, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is Lawrence Snare, Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <meonvilla.com> is registered with eNom.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 11, 2004. On October 11, 2004, the Center transmitted by email to eNom a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On October 11, 2004, eNom transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, 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 October 21, 2004. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 10, 2004. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 15, 2004.
The Center appointed Isabelle Leroux as the sole panelist in this matter on November 17, 2004. 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 has been operating in the United Kingdom since 1967 as a tour operator providing quality villa based holidays.
The Complainant is the owner of the UK trademark n° 2 007 882 MEON designating travel agency services, ticket booking and reservations services, transportation of passengers, vehicle rental and insurance services.
The Respondent registered on December 12, 2003, the domain name <meonvilla.com>.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant has been operating in the United Kingdom since 1967 under the name “Meon Villas” as a tour operator.
The Complainant is the owner of the UK trademark n° 2 007 882 “MEON” designating travel agency services, ticket booking and reservations services, transportation of passengers, vehicle rental and insurance services.
The Complainant has operated a website under the domain name <meonvillas.co.uk> offering holiday villas for rent since 2000.
The Domain name comprises the Complainant’s trademark and the generic word “villa”. The addition of the word “villa” does not distinguish the Domain Name from the Complainant’s trademark but rather increases the likelihood of confusion between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark.
The Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in respect of the Domain Name.
The Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the name “meon”.
The Respondent under the name “Balearic Rentals” is operating a website under the Domain Name that offers villas in Spain for holiday rental.
Therefore, the Respondent, by using the Domain Name, has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of his website and of the villas and services offered on his website.
The Respondent, upon receipt of the letter of complaint from the Complainant, sent a separate email to the Complainant offering to sell the Domain Name to the Complainant for the sum of US$2500. The sum of money requested by the Respondent is far in excess of any reasonable claim to his out of pocket expenses.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15 (a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the 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 seems applicable”.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that, for a complaint to be granted, the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to the trademarks or service marks in which the Complainant has rights; and,
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or no legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and,
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name <meonvilla.com> is made up of the Complainant’s trademark with the addition of the word “villa” which does not affect the attractive power of the very distinctive word “meon”.
On the contrary, the addition of the suffix “villa”, whereas it has been established that the Complainant has been using for a long time the name “Meon Villas” as a tour operator, strengthens the risk of confusion.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the registered trademark MEON.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Registrant of the domain name at issue has not filed any Response to the Complaint and thus has not alleged any facts or elements to justify prior rights or legitimate interests on the said domain name.
The Complainant does not appear to have licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use its trademark or any domain name incorporating the trademark. Therefore, prior to any notice of this dispute, the Respondent had not used the Domain Name in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services within the meaning of Paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.
By not submitting a Response, the Respondent has failed to demonstrate that he has rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Thus, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(ii) and (c)(i-iii) of the Policy in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Policy, Paragraph 4(b), indicates that certain circumstances may, “in particular but without limitation”, be evidence of bad faith.
In the present case, the bad faith of the Respondent may be established by the following elements:
- The Respondent is using the disputed domain name to automatically redirect Internet users to its website “Balearics rental” which offers competing services, i.e villa holidays. Such a use is determined to be in bad faith.
- Indeed, the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to divert Internet users looking for Complainant’s website. There is no doubt that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its services on its website.
- The Respondent offered to sell its rights on the disputed domain name in return for the sum of US$ 2.500. This sum is far in excess of any reasonable claim for out of pocket expenses. And the fact that the Respondent proposed to sell the Domain Name by a “without prejudice” letter does not preclude the Panel from coming to the conclusion that the Domain Name has been registered and used in bad faith.
Thus, the Panel concludes that thedisputeddomain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 name <meonvilla.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 1, 2004