WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Alessi S.P.A v. Alexandr Gritsay
Case No. D2007-0176
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Alessi S.P.A, of Italy, represented by Michele Alessi Anghini, Italy.
The Respondent is Alexandr Gritsay, of United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <alessi-design.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 9, 2007. On February 8, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On February 9, 2007, Network Solutions, 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. 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 February 16, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 8, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 13, 2007.
The Center appointed Michael J. Spence as the sole panelist in this matter on March 27, 2007. 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 producing household products renowned for their design for more than three quarters of a century. It has conducted this business under the trademark ALESSI, registered in nearly all countries of the world since 1974, and owns a number of domain names including this mark. Some of these domain names have material additional to the trademark such as <ilbagnoalessi.com>. The Respondent has been using the domain name <alessi-design.com> to direct customers to a pornographic website.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that ALESSI is globally recognized trademark in the field of household design. It contends that the Respondent’s domain name <alessi-design.com> is confusingly similar to the trademark ALESSI and that the addition of the word ‘design’ does nothing to distinguish the domain name from the trademark. Complainant contends that this is because good design is something for which the Complainant’s products are famous, and the addition of a descriptive suffix referring to that feature of its products does nothing to distinguish the domain name from the trademark that it incorporates. In support of this argument the Complainant cites several panel decisions such as Hoffmann-La Roche v. Globex International, WIPO Case No. D2006-0692.
Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in the disputed domain name, having only ever used the domain name to direct Internet users to a pornographic website. The Complainant contends that this use is a type of ‘pornosquatting’ that does not constitute a legitimate interest.
Finally, the Complainant contends that, given the very extensive reputation of its trademark, a domain name that is so confusingly similar constitutes use in bad faith, as does use of the website to which the domain name resolves for ‘pornosquatting’. In support of this contention it cites several panel decisions such as Pasticceria Ball Snc v. Bernadetto Percassi WIPO Case No. D2004-0362.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
There is no doubt that the disputed domain name <alessi-design.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ALESSI trademark. Given the Complainant’s reputation as a designer for innovative household goods, the addition of a descriptive term does nothing to distinguish the disputed domain name and the trademark.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is for the Complainant to establish, at least prima facie that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed names (Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455, Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110). Moreover, the Respondent has been making use of the disputed domain name, which use may be argued to give rise to some legitimate interest in the mark.
Nevertheless, in this case the Complainant owns a widely known trademark. It is not apparent that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a domain name that incorporates this distinctive and widely-known trademark. Moreover, the use of a domain name to redirect Internet users to a pornographic website, ‘pornosquatting’, cannot constitute use of a type that gives rise to a legitimate interest in the domain name. The Respondent has made no effort to communicate with the Complainant to demonstrate any other type of right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has established the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The argument advanced by the Complainant that use of a trademark in a disputed domain name that is confusingly similar to that mark is sufficient to constitute bad faith must be treated with great caution. Were this argument accepted in its broadest formulation, the first and third elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy could too easily be conflated. Nevertheless, where the possibility of confusion is great, and the disputed domain name is used to direct Internet users to a pornographic website, this suggests bad faith on the part of the Respondent. Given the extent to which the Complainant’s trademarks are widely known, and noting also that the Respondent has made no apparent attempt to contact the Complainant or answer the Complaint, it is difficult to conceive of a use of the disputed domain name by the Respondent that would not be in bad faith. The circumstances of this case make it highly likely that this is a situation of ‘pornosquatting’ for commercial gain.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has, on balance, established the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in relation to the disputed domain name.
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, <alessi-design.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Michael J. Spence
Dated: April 10, 2007