WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Quilvest SA & Quilvest Banque Privée v. Peter Cross
Case No. D2007-0587
1. The Parties
The Complainant for the domain name <quilvest-lu.com> is Quilvest SA, Luxembourg (“First Complainant”); the Complainant for the domain name <quilvest-fr.com> is Quilvest Banque Privée, Paris, France (“Second Complainant”). Both are represented by Linklaters, France.
The Respondent is Peter Cross, Bangkok, Thailand.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <quilvest-fr.com> and <quilvest-lu.com> are registered with WebNIC.cc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 18, 2007. On April 19, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to WebNIC.cc a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On April 20, 2007, WebNIC.cc 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 Complainants filed an amendment to the Complaint on April 25, 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 April 27, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 17, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any Response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 31, 2007.
The Center appointed Tobias Zuberbühler as the sole panelist in this matter on May 31, 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 Complainants state that they have been offering wealth management services for over 120 years and that the group has offices in Luxembourg, New York, Paris, Zurich and Buenos Aires. The First Complainant is the owner of the Community trademark QUILVEST, filed on April 22, 1997.
The domain names at issue were registered by the Respondent on February 1 and February 4, 2007, respectively.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainants object to the use of the domain names at issue by the Respondent and base their Complaint on the following grounds:
1. The domain names are confusingly similar to the trademark QUILVEST of the First Complainant.
2. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name as there is no relationship between the Respondent and the Complainants.
3. The Respondent has registered and is using the domain names with the only purpose to deliberately gain an unfair benefit by rerouting its website <quilvest-fr.com> to the Complainant’s website <quilvest.com> and sending letters to potential customers with a contact at <email@example.com>. Pursuant to the practice of WIPO panelists, the passive holding of the domain name <quilvest-lu.com> is also sufficient to constitute acting in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must prove each of the following in order to succeed in an administrative proceeding:
(i) that the Respondent’s domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainants have rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain names; and
(iii) that the domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy sets out circumstances which, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved, shall demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the domain names at issue.
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out circumstances which, again in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The domain names at issue consist of the trademark QUILVEST of the First Complainant and the geographic abbreviations “fr” (apparently relating to France) and “lu” (apparently relating to Luxembourg), respectively, linked with a hyphen. Neither the hyphen nor a geographical indicator can abolish the likelihood of confusion between the trademark QUILVEST and the domain names at issue (cf. this Panel’s previous decision <dell-iran.ir>, Dell Inc. v. Mojtaba Behnoudi, WIPO Case No. DIR2006-0006, referring to a consensus view of WIPO Panelists; as to geographic abbreviations, see <airfrance-us.org>, Société Air France v. Air France E-ticket, WIPO Case No. D2005-1148).
The Complainants have thus fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainants assert that the Respondent (i) does not operate any business or other type of organization known as Quilvest-Lu or Quilvest-Fr, (ii) does not own any registration for the corresponding trademarks, (iii) has no authorization from the Complainant to use the trademark QUILVEST and (iv) has no relationship with the Complainant that could lead to the assumption of an implicit authorization to use the disputed domain names.
These prima facie allegations have not been contested by the Respondent and therefore can be assumed by this Panel to be valid. The Complainant has thus fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Interestingly, the Respondent’s domain name <quilvest-fr.com> is currently linked directly to the Complainant’s own website <quilvest.com> (access by the Panel on June 14, 2007). In e-mails to customers using the letterhead of the Second Complainant containing investment proposals, the senders appear to pass themselves off as representatives of the Second Complainant and refer to the Complainant’s website <quilvest.com>, providing however the e-mail address <firstname.lastname@example.org> for any queries by the customers. This appears to be a blatant scheme to divert the customers of the Second Complainant to representatives of the Respondent and indicates not only bad faith, but possibly criminal intentions in the registration and use of the domain name <quilvest-fr.com>.
The domain name <quilvest-lu.com> is presently inactive, but could potentially be abused in a similar way. The Panel further notes that this Domain Name also incorporates the First Complainant’s trademark in its entirety and that there is no indication that the Respondent has contemplated a good faith use of the Domain Name. Société pour l’Oeuvre et la Mémoire d’Antoine de Saint Exupéry – Succession Saint Exupéry – D’Agay v. Perlegos Properties, WIPO Case No. D2005-1085. Considering the longstanding practice of UDRP panelists to find that passive holding of a domain name may be sufficient to constitute registration and use in bad faith, this Panel finds that in the particular circumstances of this case, the Respondent’s bad faith is also established for the Domain Name <quilvest-lu.com>.
Therefore, the Complainant has also fulfilled the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 <quilvest-lu.com> be transferred to the First Complainant and the domain name <quilvest-fr.com> be transferred to the Second Complainant.
Dated: June 14, 2007