WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Harrods Limited v. New ForSale(HARRODSOFLASVEGAS-COM-DOM)
Case No. D2006-0802
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Harrods Limited of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by Burges Salmon LLP, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is New ForSale(HARRODSOFLASVEGAS-COM-DOM), of California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> is registered with DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 27, 2006. On June 29, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On July 4, 2006, DSTR Acquisition VII, LLC d/b/a Dotregistrar.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 July 11, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 31, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 2, 2006.
The Center appointed Christopher J. Pibus as the sole panelist in this matter on August 17, 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.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant and its predecessors have operated the Harrods Department Store in London, England since 1849, providing over one million products and 50 separate services in a unique building. The Complainant’s store serves approximately 35,000 customers each day and has itself become a tourist attraction in England. International sales and promotions have occurred through export sales and international mail order business. The Complainant also operates satellite stores under the Harrods name in major international airports, such as Frankfurt, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon and Vienna. The Seibu Department Store in Hong Kong, SAR of China and various Mitsukoshi Stores across Japan also offer the Complainant’s products. The Complainant has also expanded its associated businesses under the Harrods name to include Harrods Estates, Harrods Bank and Harrods Casino Online.
The Complainant owns many trademark registrations around the world for the mark HARRODS in connection with a variety of goods and services (the “HARRODS Trademark”), including the following:
HARRODS – UK Trademark Registration No. 1305592;
HARRODS – UK Trademark Registration No. 2245927;
HARRODS – Community Trademark Registration No. 62414;
HARRODS – Community Trademark Registration No. 61697;
HARRODS CASINO – Community Trademark Registration No. 2227965;
HARRODS – U.S. Trademark Registration No. 1354693;
HARRODS – U.S. Trademark Registration No. 1812374.
The Complainant registered the domain name “harrods.com” on February 14, 1999. The Complainant also owns a domain name registration for “harrodslasvegas.com”.
The Complainant’s HARRODS Trademark is alleged to have acquired substantial goodwill, to the point where it is recognized worldwide as an indicia of origin exclusively identified with the Complainant.
The Respondent registered the domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> on May 10, 2006. At the date of the Complaint, the Respondent was operating a website under this name that provided a link to a family reunion page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(a) Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant contends that the domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> is virtually identical to the Complainant’s HARRODS Trademark and domain name “harrodslasvegas.com”, differing only by the addition of the word “of” and the geographical designation. The addition of descriptive words denoting geographical location do not serve to distinguish the domain name from the Complainant’s mark in any meaningful way.
(b) Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com>. The Complainant owns many trademark registrations for the mark HARRODS worldwide and owns several domain names including: “harrods.com” and “harrodslasvegas.com”. The Complainant’s rights in its HARRODS Trademark predates the registration of the Respondent’s domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> by 150 years. The Complainant contends that the Respondent cannot demonstrate any right or legitimate interest in the domain name. The Complainant further contends that the Respondent is not commonly known by the name “Harrods”, but rather has registered the domain name under the name “New ForSale” or “Heit”. The Complainant has never authorized, licensed or permitted the Respondent to use its HARRODS Trademark. The Complainant also contends that the Respondent is engaging in typosquatting, relying on mistakes made by Internet users to direct Internet traffic intended for the Complainant’s website to the Respondent’s site.
(c) Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith based on the following factors: (i) knowledge of the Complainant’s long and continuous use of the HARRODS Trademark at the time of registration of the Respondent’s domain name and that the Respondent had no right, title or interest, whatsoever, in the mark or domain name; (ii) Respondent acquired the confusing domain name for the purpose of selling, renting or otherwise transferring the domain name to Complainant or a competitor for monetary gain; and (iii) typosquatting.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed, the Complainant must establish each of the following elements:
(i) The Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) The Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The first issue in this matter is whether the domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark. There are two elements that must be satisfied: (a) the Complainant has rights in the particular mark; and (b) the domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to that mark.
The first element is readily established and independently verified by reference to the applicable Trademarks Register. In this case, presentation of copies of trademark certificates for the various trademark registrations for the mark HARRODS, including U.K. Registration Nos. 1305592 and 2245927; Community Trademark Registration Nos. 62414 and 61697; and U.S. Trademark Registration Nos. 1354693 and 1812374, satisfies the threshold requirement of having rights in the mark HARRODS (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine v. Zahid Khan (for Imperial College Management School Alumni Association – ICMSAA), WIPO Case No. 2000-1079).
The domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> differs from the HARRODS Trademark merely by the addition of the word “of” and the descriptive geographical modifier. The addition of the words denoting geographical location do not distinguish the domain name from the mark in any meaningful way. (See United States Olympic Committee v. MIC, WIPO Case No. D2000-0189 and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a, For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662). The distinctive element HARRODS has been used in its entirety, and has been positioned as the prominent first element of the domain name, thereby increasing the likelihood of confusion.
The Panel accepts the Complainant’s contention that the HARRODS Trademark is famous and that the use of the full trademark in connection with other descriptive words conveys the impression to Internet users that the website or domain name is connected, sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with the Complainant. The Panel concludes that the Respondent’s domain name <harrodsoflasvegas.com> suggests a false association with the Complainant, and infers that the Respondent chose the domain name because of the Complainant’s well-established reputation in its HARRODS Trademark. (See Harrods Limited v. Surrinder Gill, WIPO Case No. D2003-0243; Microsoft Corporation v. J. Holiday Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-1493; ISL Marketing AG, and The Federation Internationale de Football Association v. J.Y. Chung, Worldcup2002.com, W Co., and Worldcup 2002, WIPO Case No. D2000-0034; and The Price Company v. Price Club, also known as Tsung-Pei Chang, WIPO Case No. D2000-0664).
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by this domain name. The Respondent’s website <harrodsoflasvegas.com> was registered under the name New ForSale, and the identified administrative contact is James Heit. It was only after receiving the Complainant’s cease and desist letter that the Respondent provided a link from the <harrodsoflasvegas.com> website to an unconnected site “waterholes.com/~dennete/harrod/” which purported to be a family reunion page for the “Harrod” family. The Panel accepts the Complainant’s argument that the Respondent is not commonly known by either the “Harrods” or “Harrod” name, and finds that this link was a transparent attempt to legitimize a clearly abusive registration.
The Panel also accepts that the Complainant never authorized, licensed or permitted the Respondent to use its HARRODS Trademark, and that it cannot be said that the Respondent is using the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
There is no evidence that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. (See Inter-IKEA Systems, B.V. v. Eveson Co. Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2000-0437 and Harrods Limited v. Steve Bohn, WIPO Case No. D2003-0736). The Panel is accordingly satisfied that Complainant has made a prima facie showing of Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. This has not been rebutted by Respondent.
The Panel concludes that the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Prior panel decisions have consistently recognized that the HARRODS Trademark has achieved the status of a famous mark. Accordingly, it is extremely difficult for the Panel to believe that the Respondent was not aware or had no knowledge of the Complainant’s famous HARRODS Trademark. In Harrods Limited v. Chris Brick, WIPO Case No. D2003-0876, the Panel found that “The mark HARRODS is world-famous and instantly evokes the Harrods department store at Knightsbridge, London.” In Harrods Limited v. Vision Exact, WIPO Case No. D2003-0723, the Panel stated that, “It is important to remind that, as stated before, HARRODS may be considered as a well-known trademark. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that a “coincidence” has been given in the present case. On the contrary, it seems that the Respondent was clearly aware of the existence of the Complainant’s trademarks and did not register the disputed domain name for other purposes than to include the Complainant’s trademarks in said domain name.” In this case, the Panel reaches the same conclusion, that the Complainant’s HARRODS Trademark is famous and so well-known that is virtually impossible that the Respondent was not aware of the Complainant’s marks. There can be no reason for the Respondent to have registered a confusingly similar name, other than to trade on the substantial goodwill of the Complainant’s mark. (See Harrods Limited v. Walter Wieczorek, WIPO Case No. DTV2001-0024; Harrods Limited v. Walter Trautner, WIPO Case No. D2001-1164; Harrods Limited v. Surrinder Gill, WIPO Case No. D2003-0243; and Harrods Limited v. Steve Bohn, WIPO Case No. D2003-0736).
In addition to the evidence relating to knowledge of the HARRODS Trademark on the part of the Respondent, the Complainant has put forward a compelling argument under paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy. The Panel is prepared to find that the Respondent has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the HARRODS Trademark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name. The evidence reveals that there was an e-mail exchange between the Parties beginning on June 6, 2006, when the Respondent indicated “I’m sure we can come to some amicable monetary resolution if you would like to purchase this domain from us. We would be more than happy to have you buy it…” In an e-mail dated June 8, 2006, the Complainant offered to compensate the Respondent’s administrative costs for the domain name, but the Respondent replied that he believed the domain name to be worth $7,000 - $10,000, but would sell for a “starting offer of $3,500”. The Respondent’s request for monetary compensation in an amount far exceeding the administrative costs is sufficient to constitute bad faith under the Policy. (See Royal Bank of Canada, Dain Rauscher Corporation and Dain Rauscher Incorporated v. RBCD Ain Rauscher, WIPO Case No. D2001-1236).
Accordingly, the Panel is prepared to find that the Complainant has satisfied the third element, under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
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 <harrodsoflasvegas.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Christopher J. Pibus
Dated: August 31, 2006