WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
V. de C. v. P. B.
Case No. D2007-1863
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Mrs. V. de C., of Paris, France, represented by Cabinet Marc Sabatier, France.
The Respondent is P. B., of Paris, France.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <victoire-de-castellane.com> and <victoiredecastellane.com> are registered with Network Solutions, LLC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 14, 2007. On December 17, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain names at issue. On December 17, 2007, Network Solutions, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. 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 January 3, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 23, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 24, 2008
The Center appointed Isabelle Leroux as the sole panelist in this matter on January 30, 2008. 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 names at issue are <victoiredecastellane.com> and <victoire-de-castellane.com>. The disputed domain names were both registered by P. B., of France, on October 16, 1999.
The Complainant, V. de C., is a well known designer who is notably the current designer of Christian Dior Couture.
The Complainant owns, in particular, the following trademark:
- VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE, community trademark n�1191055 filed on May 31, 1999 and registered on June 16, 2000 in classes 3, 14, 18 and 25.
The Complainant requests the Panel to issue a decision ordering the transfer of <victoiredecastellane.com> and <victoire-de-castellane.com> domain names to the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that she is a well known designer in the field of jewelry and has registered and largely used the CTM VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE n�1191055 before the registration of the disputed domain names on October 16, 1999.
The Complainant further contends that the domain names <victoiredecastellane.com> and <victoire-de-castellane.com> are exactly identical to the trademark registered by the Complainant.
The Complainant alleges that the Respondent was not granted any permission to use nor file the disputed domain names.
According to the Complainant the Respondent is not known under the name VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE and does not own any French, European or International trademarks which would include the words “victoire de castellane”.
The Complainant also contends that the Respondent could not ignore its prior rights on the terms used for the disputed domain name as VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE would be a very well known designer all over the world.
According to the Complainant, the Respondent did not use the disputed domain names with a bona fide intention to offer goods and services.
Indeed, according to the Complainant, the websites “www.victoiredecastellane.com” and “www.victoire-de-castellane.com” lead to a webpage gathering Internet links reproducing Christian Dior’s trademarks, notably DIORELLA, MISS DIORELLA, DIORELLA PERFUME, without any authorization.
The Complainant adds that one of these links, “Christian Dior Handbags”, leads to a website proposing handbags infringing Christian Dior’s trademarks and design rights.
The Complainant considers that the Respondent was acting in bad faith to the extent that his choice to gather on his websites some links referring to Christian Dior’s trademarks and handbags cannot be an accident since “Victoire de Castellane” is precisely the well-known designer of Christian Dior Couture.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to prevail, the Complainant must prove the following three elements:
(i) the Respondent’s domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names; and
(iii) that the Respondent has registered the domain names and is using them in bad faith (Policy, paragraph 4(a)).
The Respondent has not filed a response to the Complaint. Pursuant to the Rules, paragraph 5 (e), the Panel will decide the dispute based on the Complaint.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established ownership of the registered VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE.
The disputed domain names are both composed of the three words “victoire”, “de”, and “castellane” which, in the first case, are simply brought together in one word, and, in the second case, are simply separated with two hyphens.
The differences between the disputed domain names and the prior Complainants trademark are as follows:
- For the domain name <victoiredecastellane.com>:
- the three words making up the trademarks are combined in one word;
- the use of a specific top-level-domain “.com”.
- For the domain name <victoire-de-castellane.com>:
- the three words making up the trademarks are simply linked by two hyphens;
- the use of a specific top-level-domain “.com”.
In both cases, the Panel notes that these minor differences can be explained by technical reasons to the extent that there cannot be any “spaces” between the words in an Internet address. The words “victoire”, “de” and “castellane”, making up the trademark VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE must therefore necessarily be combined in one word or separated by hyphens or other punctuation marks in order to constitute a valid Internet address.
In any case, such minor differences are not sufficient to avoid the likelihood of confusion between the disputed domain names and the Complainant’s trademark.
Indeed, “victoiredecastellane” and “victoire-de-castellane” remains very close, if not identical to VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE, from a visual, phonetic and intellectual point of view (see Carrefour SA c/ Laretoucherie, WIPO Case No. D2003-0587, considering that there was a likelihood of confusion between “le polygone d’or” and “polygone-or”).
Furthermore, the addition of “hyphens” in the domain name “victoire-de-castellane” has no phonetic impact and only a very minor visual one.
Finally, the presence of the “.com” generic top-level-domain in the disputed domain names is not a factor for purposes of determining whether a disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the mark in which the Complainant asserts rights (Telecom Personal v. namezero.com, WIPO Case No. D2001-0015).
Therefore, the Panel finds that the Complainant has proven that the domain names in dispute are identical to the Complainant’s trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not provided any evidence of the type specified in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, or any other circumstances giving rise to a right of legitimate interest in the domain names. The Complainant asserted that the Respondent had neither a licence nor any other permission to use the disputed domain names or the corresponding trademarks. According to the Complainant the Respondent is not known under the name “victoire de castellane” and he does not own any VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE trademark in France. The Panel is satisfied that Complainant has made out a prima facie case that Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names which the Respondent has not rebutted.
The Panel therefore concludes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names <victoiredecastellane.com > and <victoire-de-castellane.com >.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
According to the Rules paragraph 14(b), in the absence of exceptional circumstances, a Panel shall draw inferences as it considers appropriate from the failure of a party to comply with a provision or requirement of the Rules.
In that respect, the Panel draws the following inferences from Respondent’s failure to answer:
- the Respondent does not deny the facts as developed by the Complainant; and
- the Respondent does not deny the conclusions drawn by the Complainant from these facts.
Furthermore, the Respondent has not given any answer to the Complainant’s claim for transfer as well as to the numerous reminders that were sent to him.
Given the fact that the Complainant’s trademark has acquired a reputation in France and elsewhere, it is very unlikely that the Respondent, who is (according to the WhoIs) an individual located in France, could have ignored, the Complainant’s prior rights, when registering the disputed domain names on October 16, 1999.
This is reinforced by the fact that the Respondent is using these domain names to post on a webpage a number links to websites including in their addresses Christian Dior’s trademarks and leading notably to third party’s websites offering for sale fake handbags infringing Christian Dior’s trademarks and design rights. The Panel considers that this is unlikely to be an accident since V. de C. is precisely the well-known designer of Christian Dior Couture.
The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain names <victoiredecastellane.com> and <victoire-de-castellane.com> were registered in bad faith and are using by the Respondent. The Websites at the disputed domain names have the hallmarks of fairly typical parking pages from which revenue is presumably derived. The Panel has little doubt in the circumstances that these domain names were chosen and are being used with the Complainant’s mark in mind.
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 <victoiredecastellane.com> and <victoire-de-castellane.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: February 13, 2008