WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Française des Jeux v. Mark L Virgi
Case No. D2006-0283
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Française des Jeux, Boulogne-Billancourt, France, represented by Inlex Conseil, France.
The Respondent is Mark L Virgi, Tempe, Arizona, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <fdejeux.com> is registered with OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 7, 2006. On March 8, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. A reminder was sent on March 13, 2006. On March 14, 2006, OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com 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 March 21, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 10, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 11, 2006.
The Center appointed Jette Robsahm as the sole panelist in this matter on April 20, 2006. 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.
The language of the proceeding is English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant, La Française des Jeux, is the official French lottery which creates, develops and markets lottery and sports betting games in France and in the French overseas departments and territories. It has a long history and a growing reputation.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous registered trademarks in the European Union and France, among them the following:
CTM registration no. 002946192 – fdjeux.com (&device), filed on November 25, 2002.
CTM registration no. 002082212 – FDJEUX (&device), filed on February 9, 2001.
French registration no. 98754463 – FRANCAISE DES JEUX (&device), filed on October 15, 1998.
French registration no. 1711330 – LA FRANCAISE DES JEUX (&device), filed on December 12, 1991.
The Complainant is also the holder of several domain names, among them the following: <fdjeux.com>, .net, .org, .biz, .fr; <lfdj.com>; <lfdjeux.com>.
The Complainant has used the company name, Francaise des Jeux, the abbreviation “fdjeux” and different trademarks since 1991, and has also promoted the company name and different trademarks through commercials and advertisements, both in France and through the European Union.
After having become aware of the disputed domain name, <fdejeux.com>, the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter by e-mail to the Respondent, but received no answer. A reminder was sent on January 16, 2006, but still with no response.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states inter alia as follows:
The Complainant has used the trademark FDJEUX for many years and the website “www.fdjeux.com” has become a popular site for those interested in lottery and other games.
The disputed domain name is almost identical to the Complainants trademark, FDJEUX, and its main domain name. The only difference is one letter, “e”, which reflects the pronunciation of the Complainant’s domain name. The disputed domain name is thus only a slight alphabetical variation of the Complainant’s main trademark and domain name, and the Complainant argues this is an example of typosquatting.
The Respondent is using the domain name to direct consumers to a website which is a portal to sports betting games sponsored links. Internet users are redirected to several websites which contain various hyperlinks to casino games, partly in the French language. The Complainant contends that the website is thus in direct competition with the Complainant’s website.
The Complainant sees no justification for the registration and use of the domain name in question, and is of the opinion that the Respondent is cybersquatting.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to convince the Panel of its rights and obtain the transfer of the domain name, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
A. The domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights, and
B. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, and
C. The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has provided evidence of its rights to the trademark FDJEUX. It has furthermore proved to be the owner of the domain name <fdjeux.com> and other domain names containing the trademark or variations of the trademark.
The disputed domain name, <fdejeux.com>, is almost identical to the Complainant’s trademark. The only difference is one letter, which in fact is part of the pronunciation of the Complainant’s mark. The Panel finds that this is a case of typosquatting where the domain name is a slight alphabetical variation of a mark which is widely known, at least among the French speaking public, which adds to a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark. It has been stated in several decisions by prior WIPO UDRP panels that typosquatting can be sufficient to establish that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark. See as examples DaimlerChrysler Corporation v. Worshiping, Chrisler, and Chr., aka Dream Media and aka Peter Conover, WIPO Case No. D2000-1272, and Telstra Corporation Ltd. v. Warren Bolton Consulting Pty Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2000-1293.
The Panel thus finds that the domain name in question is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not filed a response to the Complainant’s contentions and the Panel must therefore base its view on the facts and allegations brought forward by the Complainant.
The Respondent uses, as mentioned above, the domain name to attract visitors on the internet to a website which appears to be in competition with the Complainant. It is of course legitimate to compete, but it is not legitimate to use a competitor’s domain name or trademark with only a slight variation. There are numerous possibilities to adapt or make a domain name for a gaming site without conflicting with earlier registered rights.
The Complainant has not licensed or otherwise authorized or permitted the Respondent to use the domain name or a domain name which is confusingly similar.
Based on the record, and in the absence of a rebuttal by the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Since the Respondent is using the contested domain name to attract visitors to a gaming site, which is in direct competition to the Complaiant’s products and services, and which is for the most part displayed in the French language, the Panel finds it more likely that not that the Respondent was well aware of the Complainant’s activities and trademark at the time of the registration of the domain name.
Failing a response from the Respondent, and in view of the facts set forth by the Complainant, the Panel finds that the domain name was registered and is used in bad faith. The Panel finds support for this view in the case Expedia, Inc. v. Alvaro Collazo, WIPO Case No. D2003-0716.
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, <fdejeux.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: May 2, 2006