WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. Lee Dong Youn
Case No. D2008-0705
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Accor, Evry Cedex, France, represented by Cabinet Dreyfus & Associés, France.
The Respondent is Lee Dong Youn, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <novotelmadrid.com> is registered with Gabia, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 6, 2008. On May 7, 2008, the Center transmitted by email to Gabia, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On May 8, 2008, Gabia, Inc. 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 May 29, 2008. 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 11, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 1, 2008. The Respondent did not submit a response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on July 1, 2008.
The Center appointed Ik-Hyun Seo as the sole panelist in this matter on July 17, 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 Complainant is one of the world's largest companies in the area of travel, tourism and corporate services. The Complainant owns approximately 4,000 hotels in 90 countries worldwide, including the Republic of Korea where the Respondent apparently resides. For example, the Complainant operates businesses under brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mecure, Suitehotel, All Seasons, Ibis, Etap Hotel and Formule 1.
The Respondent appears to be an individual, and registered the disputed domain name on October 29, 2006.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the mark in which the Complainant has rights. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that it owns multiple trademark registrations for NOVOTEL as well as other marks that incorporate NOVOTEL. The disputed domain name entirely incorporates the Complainant's NOVOTEL trademark, and has simply added the term “Madrid”.
The Complainant also contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. More specifically, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in a bona fide manner, and Respondent is not commonly known by the domain name in question.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. First, the Complainant asserts that the NOVOTEL mark has no meaning in English and is so widely known, the Respondent must have known of the Complainant's trademark when the registration was obtained. Further, the Respondent at one time displayed content related to the Complainant's business and hotels, further demonstrating that the Respondent knew of the Complainant and its trademarks.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Preliminary Issue: Language of the Proceedings
Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of proceedings shall be the language of the registration agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise. The default language of the proceedings is Korean, but the Complainant submitted a request for the proceedings to be conducted in English. The Center issued a notice stating that it would accept the Complaint filed in English, and that the Response would be accepted in either Korean or English. The Parties were further advised that the ultimate decision regarding the language of the proceedings would be determined at the discretion of the Panel. The notice provided by the Center to the Parties was presented both in English and in Korean to accommodate both Parties.
The Respondent, however, has not filed a Response or otherwise participated in these proceedings in any capacity. In light of the Respondent's lack of participation in the proceedings, this Panel finds little reason to render this decision in Korean to the prejudice and inconvenience of the Complainant. Rather, in view of the circumstances, English would seem the more appropriate language.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has demonstrated with supporting evidence that it holds various trademark registrations for the mark NOVOTEL. While the disputed domain name also includes “Madrid”, the addition of a geographic term has very little impact on the similarity examination. Many other panels have consistently determined that a domain name that consists of a trademark plus a geographic term is still confusingly similar. See eBay Inc. v. Sungho Hong, WIPO Case No. D2000-1633 <ebaykorea.com>; America Online v. Dolphin@Heart, WIPO Case No. D2000-0713 <aolfrance.com> and <aolgermany.com>.
As the disputed domain name has wholly incorporated the Complainant's NOVOTEL trademark and merely added a geographic term, the Panel finds it to be confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademarks. For these reasons, the Complainant has established the first element.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made the required allegations that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. While Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides various examples of how a respondent may demonstrate his rights or legitimate interests, the Respondent in this case has filed no Response. Accordingly, there is no evidence or allegation in the record that would warrant a find in favor of the Respondent on this point.
For these reasons, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and that the Complainant has established the second element.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The existence of bad faith in registration and use is quite clear in this case.
A short time after the Respondent registered the domain name, he displayed content specifically about the Complainant and its hotels, including two Novotel hotels located in Madrid (hence the domain name <novotelmadrid.com>). This content was later removed, but it clearly shows that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant and its NOVOTEL trademark and related business. Notwithstanding this, the Respondent failed to reply to the Complainant's communications before the commencement of these proceedings, and has chosen to offer no explanation in the course of the proceedings.
In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Respondent acted in bad faith, and concludes that the Complainant has established the third and final element.
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 <novotelmadrid.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 9, 2008