WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Quinta Worldwide L.L.C. v. Satoshi Shimoshita
Case No. D2007-1241
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Quinta Worldwide L.L.C., Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, represented by Lydecker, Lee, Behar, Berga & DeZayas LLC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Satoshi Shimoshita, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name, <la-quinta.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with eNom (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 22, 2007. On August 23, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On August 24, 2007 the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on August 29, 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 August 30, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was September 19, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 20, 2007.
The Center appointed Tony Willoughby as the sole panelist in this matter on October 1, 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 operates a substantial hotel chain in the United States of America, Canada and elsewhere under and by reference to the name “La Quinta”.
The Complainant is the proprietor of a large number of trade/service mark registrations (mainly US registrations) featuring the name “La Quinta” in one shape or form. Most of the registrations are for motel, hotel and related services. The earliest of the registrations is US registration No. 875802 dated August 26, 1969 LA QUINTA (stylized text) in class 42 for motel services.
The Complainant’s main trading website is connected to the domain name, <laquinta.com>, a domain name which was registered on June 15, 1995 by WHM LLC of Boca Raton, United States of America.
The Domain Name was registered on November 15, 2004. The Domain Name is connected to a directory website featuring sponsored links to other websites. The most prominent links are to hotel-related sites (including a link to one of the Complainant’s websites. The remaining links are to a variety of sites categorized under headings such as ‘Home’, ‘Travel’, ‘Finance’, and ‘Business’.
On June 20, 2007, the Complainant’s representative sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent drawing the Respondent’s attention to the Complainant’s rights and seeking immediate cessation of all use of the Domain Name and the Respondent’s agreement to transfer of the Domain Name to the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trade marks.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complaint has exhibited to it documentary material in support of those contentions, which are referred to as necessary in Section 6 below.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) The Domain Name is 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 Domain Name; and
(iii) The Domain Name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Domain Name is identical to the web address of the Complainant’s main trading website, save for the addition of a hyphen. Apart from the hyphen and the generic domain suffix, the Domain Name comprises the principal textual element of the majority of the Complainant’s trade/service mark registrations, namely the name “La Quinta”.
In passing, the Panel observes that the exhibits to the Complaint do not establish that the Complainant is the proprietor of the domain name, <laquinta.com>, to which its principal website is connected. However, the Complainant’s trade/service mark rights in respect of the “La Quinta” name are well-established by the evidence.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to connect it to a parking page featuring sponsored links, some of which relate to the Complainant, some of which relate to competitors of the Complainant and some of which are general links to websites concerned with a wide variety of other goods and services cannot be categorized as a bona fide offering of goods or services for the purposes of paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy. The Complainant contends that the Domain Name and the use to which it is put by the Respondent is calculated to lead people to believe that the Respondent and his website are in some way associated with the Complainant.
The Complainant states that it has not granted the Respondent the right to use its name.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case under this head, sufficient to call for an answer from the Respondent. The Respondent has not answered the Complainant’s allegations.
In these circumstances, and the Panel being unable to think of any reason why the Respondent could reasonably be said to have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant contends that when the Respondent registered the Domain Name he was fully aware of the existence of the Complainant’s well-known La Quinta hotel chain. The Complainant has produced printouts of the Respondent’s website featuring inter alia links to the Complainant’s websites. The Respondent would not have featured those links on his site if he were not aware of the Complainant and its principal trade/service mark.
The Respondent’s website is a parking/directory site featuring sponsored links via which the Respondent will be receiving ‘pay per click’ or referral income. The Complainant contends that many of the visitors to the Respondent’s website are likely to be Internet users looking for the Complainant.
In the absence of any challenge to the Complainant’s allegations, allegations which seem to the Panel to be well-founded, the Panel finds that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) 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, <la-quinta.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: October 15, 2007