WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Charlotte Russe Holding, Inc. v. Whois ID Theft Protection
Case No. D2007-0371
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Charlotte Russe Holding, Inc., San Diego, California, United States of America, represented by Cooley Godward, LLP, United States of America.
The Respondent is Whois ID Theft Protection, Georgetown, Cayman, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <charlotterusse.com> is registered with Rebel.com Services Corp.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 12, 2007. On March 15, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Rebel.com Services Corp a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On March 19, 2007, Rebel.com Services Corp 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 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 22, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 11, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 12, 2007.
The Center appointed Christopher J. Pibus as the sole panelist in this matter on April 26, 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 operating a business under the name CHARLOTTE RUSSE in connection with a chain of retail stores offering for sale clothing, footwear, and clothing accessories under the brand CHARLOTTE RUSSE for teen girls and young women since 1975. The Complainant owns and operates 392 retail stores in 43 states in the United States of America and Puerto Rico. Complainant also owns and operates the website “www.charlotte-russe.com” promoting the CHARLOTTE RUSSE brand of clothing, footwear and accessories. The Complainant’s website “www.charlotte-russe.com” receives on average 400,000 online visitors per month.
The Complainant is the owner of 8 U.S. registrations for the CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark in connection with retail services and clothing, footwear and accessories dating back to 1988. The Complainant also owns trademark registrations for the CHARLOTTE RUSSE mark in Canada and Puerto Rico.
The Complainant’s products branded with the CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark have been acknowledged and received media attention in magazines such as Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, Life & Style and Marie Claire.
The Respondent registered the domain name <charlotterusse.com> on April 25, 2002. At the date of the Complaint, the Respondent was operating a website under this name that provides links to other companies’ goods and services as a “click-through site”.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(a) Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant contends that the domain name <charlotterusse.com> is identical to the Complainant’s CHARLOTTE RUSSE Trademark.
(b) Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name <charlotterusse.com>. The Complainant owns U.S. and international trademark registrations for the CHARLOTTE RUSSE mark. The Complainant’s rights in the CHARLOTTE RUSSE mark are well established, long before the Respondent’s registration of the domain name <charlotterusse.com>. The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s use of the domain name in connection with a “click-through site” does not establish a legitimate right or interest in the domain name and that it has never authorized the Respondent as a dealer, distributor or licensee of the Complainant.
(c) Registered and Use in Bad Faith
The Complainant contends that the domain name <charlotterusse.com> 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 CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark at the time of registration; (ii) registration of an identical domain name to the Complainant’s trademark; (iii) Respondent acquired the confusing domain name for the purpose of monetary gain by providing links to other companies’ products and services through a “click-through” scheme; (iv) Respondent provided incomplete and inaccurate mailing address or physical operating street address in the registration of the domain name, in order to conceal the Respondent’s identity; and (v) Respondent not likely to file a response to the Complaint, which is evidence in itself of bad faith.
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 marks; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest 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 Panel finds that the Complainant has established its rights in the CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark, by virtue of the U.S. and international trademark registrations.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark, as it replicates the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety.
The Panel, therefore, finds that Complainant has satisfied the first requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds no evidence that the Respondent ever had any legitimate right or interest in the <charlotterusse.com> domain name. Based on the Complainant’s evidence, the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and is not using the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services. The Panel finds that the Respondent’s domain name provides links to other types of goods and services in what appears to be a “click-through” site. (Robert Bosch GmbH v. Asia Ventures, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-0946 and PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. LucasCobb, WIPO Case No. 2006-0162).
The Panel also accepts that the Complainant never authorized, licensed or permitted the Respondent to use its CHARLOTTE RUSSE trademark.
The Panel is therefore, satisfied that the Complainant has made a prima facie showing of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. Once a complainant has made this prima facie showing, the respondent must come forward with evidence that rebuts this presumption (Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270).
As the Respondent has not filed any evidence in response, the Panels finds that the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The uncontested evidence shows that the Complainant’s trademark CHARLOTTE RUSSE is distinctive and has been widely known for more than 20 years. In the circumstances, the Panel is prepared to infer that the Respondent had actual knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark rights when it registered the <charlotterusse.com> domain name.
The Panel is also prepared to find that the Respondent registered the domain name and is operating a website for the purposes of monetary gain by providing links to sites of other companies, some of which are direct competitors of the Complainant, in the form of a “click-through” site. The Respondent, by trading on the goodwill of the Complainant’s trademark, has disrupted the business of the Complainant and diverted internet traffic intended for the Complainant’s website to the Respondent’s website. Prior panel decisions have consistently recognized that the registration of domain names which are confusingly similar to complainant’s trademarks, and which are then used to operate “click-through” sites, will be considered to be evidence of bad faith (WeddingChannel.com, Inc. v. Helois Lab, WIPO Case No. D2006-0021 and Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Ramada Inn, WIPO Case No. D2003-0658).
The Panel, for these reasons, finds that the Complainant has satisfied the third requirement of paragraph 4(a) 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, <charlotterusse.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Christopher J. Pibus
Dated: May 10, 2007