WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. Domains by Proxy, Inc./Ostrid Company
Case No. D2008-0707
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Accor, Evry, France, represented by Cabinet Dreyfus & Associés, France.
The Respondent is Ostrid Company, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <accor-blog.com> and <accorblog.com> (the “Disputed Domain Names”) are registered with GoDaddy.com, 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 GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On May 7 2008, GoDaddy.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing underlying registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on May 11, 2008 providing the underlying registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to file an amendment to the Complaint. On May 16, 2008 the Complainant submit an amendment 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 May 20, 2008. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 9, 2008. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 11, 2008.
The Center appointed Michael D. Cover as the sole panelist in this matter on June 23, 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 the European leader and one of the world’s largest groups in travel, tourism and corporate services. The Complainant owns about 4,000 hotels in
90 countries worldwide.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous trade mark registrations through out the world covering the name ACCOR. These include International and United States of America registrations and the registrations cover Classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 38, 39, 42 and 43. The Complainant operates two websites at the domain names <accorhotels.com> and <accor.com> and has some 4,000 hotels worldwide. As such, the Complainant is a holding company for various hotel brands, such as NOVOTEL and SOFITEL. Accor has also been the Complainant’s corporate name since September 22, 1983.
The Respondent has not replied to the Complainant’s contentions, so little is known about it. The Disputed Domain Names resolved to a page displaying sponsored links for hotels but, following a cease and desist letter from the Complainant’s representative on March 26 2008, the Disputed Domain Names resolve to respectively a blank page and a parked website. No response was received by the Complainant or its representative to the cease and desist letter.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the numerous ACCOR trade marks registered by the Complainant. The Complainant also submits that the mere addition of “.com” does not change the likelihood of confusion. This means, the Complainant says, that the Complainant has trade mark rights in the name that is reproduced in its entirety in the Disputed Domain Names.
With regard to the Respondent having no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names, the Complainant states that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant in any way, the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to use the Complainant’s trade marks and the Respondent has no prior rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent has not responded, so has not taken advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in accordance with paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
With regard to Disputed Domain Names being registered and used in bad faith, the Complainant maintains that the trade mark ACCOR is well-known and that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant’s trade mark when registering the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant also states that the Respondent has registered the Disputed Domain Names on purpose for making a commercial profit. It also points to the sponsored links and states that this is, in accordance with
paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, evidence of bad faith, in that there is an attempt to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the websites that are linked in by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the websites linked to the Disputed Domain Names.
The Complainant then requests that the Disputed Domain Names are transferred to the
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Disputed Domain Names contain the trademark of the Complainant, ACCOR. It is well established that the addition of non-distinctive matter, such as “blog” and the gTLD “.com” does not change the likelihood of confusion (see; Société des Hòtels Méridien v. Richard English, WIPO Case No. D2005-0646).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the trade mark ACCOR in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is no licence granted by the Complainant to the Respondent in respect of the trade mark ACCOR. The Respondent has not taken advantage of the opportunity to respond and to explain how it might bring itself within paragraph 4(c) of the Policy. In any event, the evidence of the Complainant shows that none of the criteria within paragraph 4(c) of the Policy would apply. The earliest registrations of the Complainant’s trade mark ACCOR go back to 1997, well before the registration of the Disputed Domain Names in February 2008. There is no evidence that the Respondent has been commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names and such use as has taken place cannot be described as legitimate or noncommercial.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel accepts the Complainant’s argument that the trade mark ACCOR is
well-known and that the Respondent must have known of the infringement of the Complainant’s rights. The Respondent has not responded to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter of March 26, 2008.
The Panel also accepts the Complainant’s argument that, by using the Disputed Domain Names, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to the relevant websites by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark ACCOR as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement or those websites. This is shown by the links set out in Annex 5 to the Complaint.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Names, <accor-blog.com > and <accorblog.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Michael D. Cover
Dated: July 9, 2008