WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Societé des Autoroutes Paris Rhin Rhône v. Keyword Marketing Inc.
Case No. D2006-1270
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Societé des Autoroutes Paris Rhin Rhône, Saint Apollinaire, France, represented by Schmidt, Brunet & Associés, France.
The Respondent is Keyword Marketing Inc., Charlestown, West Indies, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <parirhinrhone.com> is registered with Capitoldomains, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 2, 2006. On October 4, 2006, the Center transmitted by email to Capitoldomains, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On October 5, 2006, Capitoldomains, LLC 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. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on October 20, 2006. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 31, 2006. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 20, 2006. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 21, 2006.
The Center appointed Francine Tan as the Sole Panelist in this matter on November 29, 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 is incorporated in France and known by the name “Autoroutes Paris Rhin Rhône” in its provision of goods and services in France. The Complainant possesses two French registrations, TM Nos. 3314056 and 3315688, for the trademarks AUTOROUTES PARIS RHIN RHONE and AUTOROUTES PARIS-RHIN-RHONE, respectively. These registrations cover goods and services in a large variety of classes. Classes 4, 12, 35, 37, 38 and 39 are those which feature in both trademark registrations.
The Complainant is also the domain name registrant for the domain names <parisrhinrhone.com> and <parisrhinrhone.fr>. These domains were registered on September 10, 2004 and January 11, 2005, respectively. Information from the Complainant’s website shows that it is one of Europe’s largest motorway groups. It is responsible for building and operating motorways and tolls under concessions granted by the French government.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant seeks to obtain a transfer of the disputed domain name, and has set out the following as grounds for the Complaint:
(1) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
The disputed domain name <parirhinrhone.com> is a mis-spelling of the Complainant’s two prior domain names. Consequently, Internet users who make a typing error when entering the website addresses of the Complainant would automatically be directed to the website of the Respondent. The registration and use of the disputed domain name as an Internet address creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s websites and Internet users would be diverted to the Respondent’s website.
(2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
The Internet site accessible at “www.parirhinrhone.com” has sponsored links to other websites offering other services including services which are closely related to those offered by the Complainant. The Respondent is making a commercial and unfair use of the domain name to divert, for lucrative purposes, Internet users looking for the Complainant’s website.
(3) The domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The disputed domain name was registered after the registration of the Complainant’s trademarks and domain names. Further, bad faith is established by the fact that the disputed domain name consists of the corporate name and trademarks of the Complainant which are well known in France.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(a) 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; and
(b) that the Respondent has no rights or no legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(c) the domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The question to be addressed under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is whether the disputed domain name <parirhinrhone.com> is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark or service mark. With respect to the element “.com”, it is well established that this element is of no consequence and does not prevent a finding that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar.
The next point to consider is whether the omission of the word “autoroutes” in the Respondent’s domain name, but which is an element in the Complainant’s trademarks, renders the domain name not confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks. The French word “autoroutes” means “motorway” and, in the context of the Complainant’s sphere of business, is a generic or descriptive element in the Complainant’s trademark. The Panel finds that the omission of the descriptive word “autoroutes” in the disputed domain name does not negate a finding of confusing similarity. The fact that the Complainant’s domain names centre around the combination “parisrhinrhone” is indicative that this combination of words is the primary element of the mark.
Apart from the omission of the word “autoroutes”, the only difference between the Respondent’s domain name and the Complainant’s trademark, is the omission of the letter “s” in the former. This difference is not immediately obvious. Further, phonetically in the French language, there is no difference at all between “pari” and “paris”. Hence, the manner in which the primary element of the Complainant’s trademark is pronounced would be the same as that in the case of the Respondent’s domain name. It appears to be quite clear that the Respondent has sought to take advantage of Internet users typing an incorrect address when seeking to access the Complainant’s website. This practice of “typosquatting” has been dealt with in many previous WIPO decisions. See, e.g., Yahoo! Inc. and GeoCities v. Data Art Corp., DataArt Enterprises, Inc., Stonybrook Investments, Global Net 2000, Inc., Powerclick, Inc., and Yahoo Search, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0587 and Pig Improvement Company, Inc. v. Platinum Net, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-1594.
In the premises, the Panel finds that the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
For the purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, it is sufficient for the Complainant to show a prima facie case, after which the burden of proof is shifted onto the Respondent. However, as the Respondent has failed to respond to the Complaint or participate in these proceedings, the Panel has to decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted by the Complainant.
On a review of the documents and statements submitted, the Panel finds that there is nothing to suggest that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. In fact, the offering of sponsored links on the Respondent’s website to other websites offering services which are closely related to those offered by the Complainant would suggest that there is an intention by the Respondent to misleadingly divert consumers. Further, the disputed domain name is likely to attract Internet users who mis-spell the domain address of the Complainant that they seek.
The Panel therefore concludes, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary from the Respondent, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the present case, the Panel infers, particularly from the manner in which the domain name was chosen (i.e. incorporating a mis-spelling omitting the letter “s” in the word “Paris” but otherwise adopting the corporate name and trademark of the Complainant), that the sole purpose for registering and using the domain name is to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website. With the sponsored links offering services which relate closely to those offered by the Complainant, the wrong impression and confusion that Internet users may have is that the Respondent’s website is somehow affiliated to, sponsored or endorsed by, the Complainant. Even if a user who arrives at the site may very soon realize that it is not what he or she was looking for, the Respondent would have benefited from having attracted the user with a view to commercial gain See, e.g., Yahoo! Inc. and GeoCities v. Data Art Corp., DataArt Enterprises, Inc., Stonybrook Investments, Global Net 2000, Inc., Powerclick, Inc., and Yahoo Search, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0587; National Football League Properties, Inc. and Chargers Football Company v. One Sex Entertainment Co., a/k/a chargergirls.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0118.
The Panel therefore determines that the domain name has been registered and 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 <parirhinrhone.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: December 13, 2006