WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
ACCOR v. N/A:0c7hx1s7
Case No. D2007-0272
1. The Parties
Complainant is ACCOR, Evry, France, represented by Cabinet Dreyfus & Associés, France.
Respondent is N/A:0c7hx1s7, Boonton, New Jersey, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hotelf1.com> is registered with Go Daddy.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 23, 2007. On the basis of the “Whois” information in respect of the domain name the Complaint named “Default Profile” as Respondent and Registerfly.com Inc as Registrar. The domain name was due to expire on the day the Complaint was filed.
On February 27, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Registerfly.com Inc a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. No reply was received by the Center. On March 16, 2007, ICANN issued a formal notice of termination of RegisterFly.com’s Registration Accreditation Agreement. After the Agreement was terminated, ICANN approved a bulk transfer of all current RegisterFly domain names to another ICANN accredited Registrar. On May 29, 2007, ICANN announced that GoDaddy.com would take over the entire portfolio of names held by RegisterFly.
On June 5, 2007, the Center transmitted by e-mail to Go Daddy.com a request for registrar verification and on the same day Go Daddy.com transmitted by e-mail to the Center its verification response stating that Default Profile was not the registrant of the domain name. The verification response stated that Respondent was the registrant and providing the contact details. On June 8, 2007, the Center notified Complainant that the Complaint was administratively deficient. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on June 20, 2007. 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 July 4, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 24, 2007. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 25, 2007.
The Center appointed Desmond J. Ryan as the sole panelist in this matter on August 2, 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 domain name was registered on February 23, 2004.
Complainant is a French company which is one of world’s leading hotel operators. Complainant owns 4,000 hotels in 90 countries across Europe, the Americas, South Africa and the Asia Pacific region. Of these, 375 hotels are operated under the FORMULE 1 name and trademark. Complainant has several international and national trademark registrations for trademarks comprising the words HOTEL F1, FORMULE 1 and HOTEL FORMULE 1 dating back to 1988.
In November 2006 Complainant sent a cease and desist letter by registered post and by e-mail to the Respondent shown at its address in the “Whois” for the domain name. The letter was returned “not deliverable as addressed”. Two further reminder letters sent on November 24, 2006 and January 11, 2007 remain unanswered.
Nothing is known of Respondent.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant contends that its Formule 1 hotels are well known throughout the world under, and by reference to, its FORMULE 1, HOTEL FORMULE 1 and HOTEL F1 trademarks. Complainants evidence shows that if HOTEL F1 is entered into a Google search the firsts results displayed are for Complainant’s Formule 1 on-line reservation service at Complainants website “www.hotelformule1.com”.
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical to its HOTEL F1 trademark and confusingly similar to its FORMULE 1 and HOTEL FORMULE 1 trademarks. Complainant contends that the addition of the domain designator “.com” does not distinguish the domain name from its trademark or change the likelihood of confusion. Complainant cites inter alia Telstra Corp Limited v Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.
Complainant asserts that Respondent has no affiliation with it, has no prior rights or legitimate interests in the domain name and is not known under the name HOTEL F1 or any similar term. Complainant contends that in the face of the identity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s famous trademarks, Respondent’s registration of the domain name constitutes an obvious intent to misleadingly divert Internet consumers and Respondent could not reasonably pretend it was intending to develop a legitimate activity.
Complainant contends that Respondent must have known Complainant’s HOTEL F1, FORMULE 1 and HOTEL FORMULE 1 trademarks at the time of registration of the domain name and could have had no reason to choose the domain name other than to profit from the reputation of Complainant.
As further evidence of bad faith registration and use, Complainant points to the fact that the domain name has remained inactive since registration in 2004. Bad faith is further evidenced by the fact that Respondent hides behind a fictitious name and has apparently provided an incorrect address to the domain name registrar.
No response has been filed.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed Complainant must establish
(i) that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a name, trademark or service mark in which it has rights;
(ii) that 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.
The onus is on Complainant to establish each of the above circumstances.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant has shown that its HOTEL F1 trademark has been registered since 1988 and is widely known and used. The Panel accepts Complainant’s contention that the addition of the “.com” domain designator does not add anything to the domain name to distinguish it from Complainant’s HOTEL F1 mark.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is identical to a trademark in which Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant asserts that Respondent has no connection with it and no authority from it to use the domain name. Complainant has contended that Respondent had no reason to choose the domain name other than to profit from the reputation of Complainant. Respondent has not taken the opportunity to rebut this contention nor provide any other evidence as to why it might claim rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Respondent registered the domain name in February 2004, nineteen years after Complainant commenced operation of its Formule 1 hotels and sixteen years after Complainant registration of its HOTEL F1 trademark. On the face of the evidence, there is a strong presumption that Respondent was aware of Complainant’s mark at the time it registered the disputed domain name. There is no apparent reason why Respondent would have chosen the domain name than to profit from Complainant’s reputation, either by selling the domain name to Complainant or to a competitor, by preventing the Complainant from reflecting its trademark in a corresponding domain name or by intentionally, for commercial gain, diverting Internet users to its website at the domain name.
The domain name has remained inactive since its registration and Respondent has attempted to hide behind a false name and a false or insufficient address. These facts constitute the necessary elements of a finding of use in bad faith under the doctrine of “passive use” propounded in the decision in Telstra’s Case supra.
The Panel therefore finds that the domain 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, <hotelf1.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Desmond J. Ryan
Dated: August 16, 2007