WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Christian Dior Couture Company v. Domains by Proxy Inc and Sherif Hassanin
Case No. D2007-0850
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Christian Dior Couture Company of Paris, France, represented by Cabinet Marc Sabatier, France.
The Respondents are Domains by Proxy Inc. of Arizona, United States of America and Sherif Hassanin of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <muslim-dior.com> and <muslimdior.com> are registered with GoDaddy.com Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 11, 2007, naming Domains by Proxy Inc. as the Respondent. On June 13, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com Inc a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue.
On June 13, 2007, GoDaddy.com Inc transmitted by email to the Center its verification response stating that Sherif Hassanin is listed as the registrant and providing his details as the administrative and technical contact.
On June 18, 2007, the Center transmitted to the Complainant by email a notice of change in the registrant’s information. In response to this notice by the Center, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on June 21, 2007, adding Sherif Hassanin as a Respondent to the Complaint.
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 June 27, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 17, 2007. An email communication was received from the Respondent on July 13, 2007. No formal Response was filed with the Center by the required date.
The Center appointed John Swinson 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.
The language of the proceeding is English.
4. Proper Respondent
The listed name of the registrant of the disputed domain name at the time when the Complaint was filed was Domains by Proxy Inc. After the original Complaint was filed, the Center sought particulars of the registration and was advised by the registrar that Sherif Hassanin was the registrant of the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel will proceed on the basis that for the purposes of this decision, Sherif Hassanin will be treated as the Respondent, and Domains by Proxy Inc remains a pro forma Respondent; that the conduct to be discussed in this decision is that of Sherif Hassanin and not that of Domains by Proxy Inc; and that Domains by Proxy Inc has acted promptly in supplying Sherif Hassanin’s details. See WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature aka WWF International v. Moniker Online Services LLC and Gregory Ricks, WIPO Case No. D2006-0975.
5. Factual Background
The Complainant is a well-known French corporation which produces fashion, cosmetics and other luxury items. The Complainant’s trademarks DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR are registered as trademarks in many countries, in respect of numerous goods and services. The Complainant has also registered various domain names which advertise its business, for example <christiandior.com>, <dior.com> and <fashion.dior.com>.
The Respondent Sherif Hassanin is an individual residing in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He registered the two disputed domain names on January 2, 2007. Both are due for renewal on January 3, 2008.
The websites for the disputed domain names are active and are stated to be “parked free by GoDaddy.com”. GoDaddy.com is a well-known domain name registrar. Both websites contain similar search engine facilities and sponsored advertising links to Muslim and fashion pages, including some links to Christian Dior products. For example, there are links to “Muslim Marriage”, “Dior Wholesale List” and “Online Cheap Luxury Bags” websites. None of the links appear to be links to authentic websites of the Complainant.
6. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant makes the following submissions and arguments:
The domain names <muslimdior.com> and <muslim-dior.com> are nearly identical to the trademarks DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR registered by the Complainant. While the word “Muslim” has been inserted before “Dior” in the disputed domain names, confusion will still result. The focus remains on the word “Dior”.
The Respondent has no trademark rights to “Muslim Dior” and has not been granted any license, contract or other authorisation to register and utilise the term “Dior” in the domain names.
The websites relating to the disputed domain names are search engine sites. On these sites, there are link-through websites which sell Dior and Christian Dior goods. These sites are non-official sites and the goods sold are counterfeit products.
The Respondent is the genuine owner of the disputed domain names, a fact that was obscured by registration in the name of Domains by Proxy Inc. This indicates that the Respondent knew that use of the domain names was illegal.
The Complainant attempted to reach an amicable settlement of this case through transfer of the domain names at no cost, but settlement was refused by the Respondent.
The Respondent made no formal reply to these submissions.
In an email from the Respondent to the Center on July 13, 2007, the Respondent indicated that he had never used or activated the disputed domain names, nor had he carried out any work to the websites.
The Respondent stated that the links contained on the disputed domain names’ websites belong to GoDaddy.com Inc.
The Respondent also submitted that the purchase of the websites was in good faith on the basis that “Dior” was the French word for “gold”. Further, the Respondent stated he had no knowledge of the DIOR “patent” and had not been notified of the “patent” at the time he purchased the disputed domain names.
The Respondent states to have requested $64.98 in compensation for the financial loss incurred as a result of being unable to use the disputed domain names in the future.
7. Discussion and Findings
To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names; and
(iii) the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The onus of proving these elements is on the Complainant.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has a significant number of CHRISTIAN DIOR and DIOR trademarks.
The Complainant clearly has trademark rights in CHRISTIAN DIOR and DIOR.
It has been established that the Complainant’s trademarks are world famous and that DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR are well-known marks within the meaning of Article 6 bis of the Paris Convention: see Christian Dior Couture SA v Bill Rosenfeld, WIPO Case No. D2000-0098 and Parfums Christian Dior SA v QTR Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2000-0023 and the comments therein.
Dior, as a French name, may be associated with the word “golden”. Even if “Dior” were a common word, that does not negate the fact that the Complainant has demonstrated in this case that it has trademark rights in DIOR.
The next issue is whether the disputed domain names are identical, or confusingly similar, to the trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
The differences between the Complainant’s trademarks and the disputed domain names can be considered in two ways:
- The word “Muslim” has been added to the DIOR trademark.
- The word “Christian” in the CHRISTIAN DIOR trademark has been replaced with “Muslim”. Although the use of the term “Christian” in respect of the CHRISTIAN DIOR trademark is used in the sense of a person’s given name, in general it can also denote a person of the Christian faith.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to both the DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR trademarks owned by the Complainant.
Therefore, the Panel finds that the requirements of the Policy paragraph 4(a)(i) are satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:
“Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.” (Policy, paragraph 4(c)).
The Complainant is required to make out an initial prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
The Complainant has not granted the Respondent any license or other authorization to use its trademarks in relation to the disputed domain names. This is not disputed by the Respondent. The Respondent is not known by the disputed domain names, and has not demonstrated any rights or interest in the disputed domain names (i.e. the Respondent has not demonstrated any rights that he may have in the words “dior” or “muslimdior”).
Even though the Respondent has not filed a formal Response, the Respondent stated in his email to the Center of July 13, 2007 that he has not made any attempt to use the disputed domain names. The Respondent has allowed a third party to choose and publish links on the websites at the disputed domain names. In these circumstances, that is not sufficient to demonstrate a bona fide use of the domain name by the Respondent.
The Respondent stated in an email to the Complainant’s lawyers dated April 2, 2007 “I was going to start a business soon and this domain is vital for me” (Annexure 6 to the Complaint). However the Respondent has not shown any evidence that he intends to use the disputed domain names for a legitimate purpose.
The Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, and the Respondent has failed to demonstrate such rights or legitimate interests. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy enumerates four, non-inclusive, circumstances that, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith. Subparagraph (iv) includes circumstances where the Respondent, by using the disputed domain name, has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website.
As mentioned above, it has been established that the Complainant and its registered trademarks are world famous and that DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR are well-known marks: see Christian Dior Couture SA v Bill Rosenfeld, WIPO Case No. D2000-0098 and Parfums Christian Dior SA v QTR Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2000-0023.
Confusion between the Respondent’s websites and the Complainant’s trademarks and reputation is very likely to occur.
The Respondent contends that he has not had any influence over which links are published on the websites, and that he has allowed GoDaddy.com to decide such matters. This does not prevent a finding that the Respondent is using the disputed domain names in bad faith.
The Panel is able to draw inferences of bad faith from the following circumstances:
- the Respondent has used an extremely well-known and valuable trademark in the disputed domain names;
- it is likely that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant when registering the domain name, due to the use of “Muslim” in place of “Christian” in the disputed domain names;
- the Respondent originally concealed his identity as the registrant of the disputed domain names;
- the Respondent has not shown, and the Panel finds it difficult to conceive of any good faith use of the disputed domain names in a non-infringing manner.
In light of the above, the Panel finds that the registration and use of the disputed domain names has been in bad faith. Accordingly, the Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is satisfied.
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 names <muslim-dior.com> and <muslimdior.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 21, 2007