WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


eDreams, Inc. v. Choi Polo

Case No. D2009-1509

1. The Parties

Complainant is eDreams, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America, represented by Ubilibet, Spain.

Respondent is Choi Polo, Siko Dolp, Thailand.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <edreans.com> is registered with OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 6, 2009. On November 10, 2009, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 11, 2009, OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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” or “UDRP”), 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 16, 2009. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 6, 2009. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on December 7, 2009.

The Center appointed Nasser A. Khasawneh as sole panelist in this matter on December 14, 2009. 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

Complainant owns numerous trademark registrations in many countries.

Among Complainant's earlier registrations for the mark EDREAMS are the following: Registration number 195781 (0790-2000), granted in Class 35 on June 19, 2001 (Slovakia); Registration number 2000-03323, granted with a priority date of October 14, 1999 in Classes 09, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41 and 42 on November 22, 2000 (Norway); and Registration number 235639 (153616), granted in Class 35 on August 27, 2001 (Czech Republic). Complainant also owns dozens of domain names with a variety of top-level and geographic extensions, based on its trademark and small variations or misspellings.

The disputed domain name was registered on August 19, 2004, and at the time the Complaint was filed, routed to a parking page displaying a search tool and links to travel-related online services. Shortly after the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain name was changed to redirect users to Complainant's websites.1 Respondent's website has also routed to Complainant's websites from time to time in the past, as discussed below.

5. Parties' Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant avers that its company has been doing business since 2000. Since then, Complainant avers, its company has developed a large worldwide presence as an online travel booking agent. In 2008, according to Complainant's allegations and exhibits submitted with the Complaint, Complainant invoiced over 607 million Euros to customers, has the largest market share of any online travel business in Southern Europe, and in 2009, sold ten percent of the air travel tickets sold in the Spanish market.

Complainant contends that this is a case of “typo squatting,” in which Respondent seeks to direct users who misspell Complainant's name to Respondent's own parking page website for Respondent's own commercial purposes. Complaint identifies many trademark registrations for the term “edreams,” noting that Complainant's earliest three EDREAM trademark registrations were granted before registration of the disputed domain name.

In summary, Complainant alleges that (1) the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to trademarks in which Complainant has rights, (2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and (3) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

To support its allegations of bad faith registration, Complainant alleges that Respondent's deliberate misspelling of Complainant's EDREAMS trademark establishes Respondent's prior awareness, citing EasyGroup IP Licensing Limited v. John Sansone, WIPO Case No. D2004-0763. To support bad faith use, Complainant avers that the website to which the disputed domain name routes is inactive, displaying only a parking page for five years.

On these grounds, Complainant requests transfer.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Notification of Proceedings to Respondent

The Policy is intended to resolve disputes concerning allegations of abusive domain name registration or acquisition in an efficient manner. Fundamental due process requirements must nonetheless be met. The requirement that a respondent have notice of proceedings that may substantially affect its rights is such a fundamental requirement. The Policy and the Rules establish procedures to assure that respondent receive adequate notice of proceedings commenced against them, and a reasonable opportunity to respond (see, e.g., paragraph 2(a) of the Rules).

The Center sent to Respondent by courier notification of these proceedings. The Center used the address listed in the WhoIs record for the disputed domain name, but the courier company was unable to deliver to the address indicated in Respondent's WhoIs record. The Center also notified Respondent by using an email address provided by the registrar in its verification response to the Center, but the electronic notifications returned delivery errors.

The Panel is satisfied that by sending communications to the contacts made available through the registrar, and those provided by the registrant to the registrar as listed in the WhoIs records, the Center has exercised care and has fulfilled its responsibility under paragraph 2 of the Rules to employ all reasonably available means to serve actual notice of the Complaint upon Respondent.

B. Substance of the Complaint and Applicable Standards

The Rules require the Panel to decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable. Rules, paragraph 15(a). Complainant must establish each element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, namely:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;

(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Complainant must establish these elements even if Respondent does not submit a response. See, e.g., The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. Lorna Kang, WIPO Case No. D2002-1064. In the absence of a Response, the Panel may also accept as true the factual allegations in the Complaint. E.g., ThyssenKrupp USA, Inc. v. Richard Giardini, WIPO Case No. D2001-1425 (citing Talk City, Inc. v. Michael Robertson, WIPO Case No. D2000-0009).

C. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Although the disputed domain name <edreans.com> is not identical to Complainant's trademarks listed above, the Panel agrees with Complainant that Respondent's domain name is confusingly similar to the EDREAM trademarks.

Panels disregard the domain name suffix in evaluating confusing similarity. E.g., VAT Holding AG v. Vat.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0607; Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited v. NetIncome Ventures Inc., WIPO Case No. D2006-1315.

Removing the suffix, the disputed domain name is almost identical to Complainant's trademarks. The fact that Respondent's domain name substitutes the single letter “n” for the letter “m” which is present in Complainant's EDREAMS mark does not change the Panel's conclusion that the domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's trademarks. Without the gtld designation, the remaining word in the disputed domain name “edreans” and Complainant's trademark EDREAMS are similar in appearance and are phonetically very close.

The Panel believes that, on a balance of probabilities, Complainant's trademark was intentionally misspelled in order to attract the flow of Internet users who have mistyped Complainant's URL address and to increase traffic to its website. Such “typo squatting” has regularly been condemned by UDRP panels. E.g., The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. v. NSDAQ.COM, NASDQ.COM and NASAQ.COM, WIPO Case No. D2001-1492, cited in Volvo Trademark Holding AB v. Unasi, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-0556; VeriSign, Inc. v. Onlinemalls, WIPO Case No. D2000-1446.

The Panel finds, therefore, that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's registered EDREAMS trademark.

Complainant also owns European Community trademark registration number 005223045, issued on July 16, 2007 for the mark EDREANS in classes 36, 38 and 39. It is conceivable that this registered trademark, granted three years after registration of the disputed domain name, could be relevant to the Panel's determination under Policy paragraph 4(a)(i). See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Question 1.4. (consensus view that “[r]egistration of a domain name before a complainant acquires trademark rights in a name does not prevent a finding of identity or confusing similarity”).

There is no evidence in the record respecting Complainant's actual use of the registered EDREANS trademark, and there is abundant evidence respecting the widespread use of Complainant's several EDREAMS marks. Because the Panel agrees with Complainant that this is essentially a case in which Respondent registered a deliberate misspelling of Complainant's principal EDREAMS marks, the Panel finds it preferable to consider the parties' rights in this proceeding with reference to Complainant's EDREAMS marks and not the more recently registered EDREAN mark. In this instance, therefore, the Panel's ruling under Policy paragraph 4(a)(i) is based on confusing similarity and not on identity.

In conclusion, the requirements in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are fulfilled.

D. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Panel also concludes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Policy contains a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may demonstrate when a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. The list includes: (1) using the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services; (2) being commonly known by the domain name; or (3) making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers. Policy, paragraphs 4(c)(i) – (iii).

A complainant must show a prima facie case that a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name, after which the burden of rebuttal passes to the respondent. See, e.g., Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455. The absence of rights or legitimate interests is established if a complainant makes out a prima facie case and the respondent enters no response. Id., (citing De Agostini S.p.A. v. Marco Cialone, WIPO Case No. DTV2002-0005).

As the Complaint exhibits show, Respondent's website has displayed a parking page, with links to third-party travel agencies and air ticket sales websites. By diverting traffic to third parties and their products, the Panel finds that Respondent is using Complainant's marks for its own commercial purposes. See, e.g., The Bear Stearns Companies Inc. v. Darryl Pope, WIPO Case No. D2007-0593 (“[t]he Panel is free to infer that Respondent is likely receiving some pecuniary benefit . . . in consideration of directing traffic to that site” (citing COMSAT Corporation v. Ronald Isaacs, WIPO Case No. D2004-1082)). See also Fat Face Holdings Ltd v. Belize Domain WHOIS Service Lt, WIPO Case No. D2007-0626; Sanofi-aventis v. MontanyaILtd., WIPO Case No. D2006-1079.

In the absence of a Response, the Panel accepts as true Complainant's allegations that Respondent has no authorization to use Complainant's trademarks. The Panel also accepts Complainant's uncontested allegation that Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name.

Complainant also contends that Respondent's use of the disputed domain name cannot be bona fide. According to the Internet Archive, “www.archive.org,” Respondent's website has at times displayed a parking page with links to third-party commercial websites, and at other times, redirected users directly to Complainant's websites. The Panel finds that Respondent's occasional use of the website to redirect to Complainant's websites does not constitute bona fide use.2

The Panel agrees with Complainant that Respondent is seeking to attract Internet users through Complainant's marks for Respondent's own commercial purposes. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent's use of the disputed domain name demonstrates Respondent's lack of a legitimate non-commercial interest in, or fair use of, the domain name. See e.g., Pfizer Inc. v. jg a/k/a Josh Green, WIPO Case No. D2004-0784. The Panel also finds that Complainant makes out a prima facie case.3

Filing no response, Respondent has not rebutted Complainant's prima facie case or invoked any of the circumstances of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy to support the existence of its “rights or legitimate interests” in use of the disputed domain name.

Accordingly, the Panel concludes that paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy is satisfied.

E. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel finds that the third element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, bad faith registration and bad faith use, is also established.

Using a domain name to intentionally attract Internet users, for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion, may be evidence of bad faith registration and use. Policy, paragraph 4(b)(iv). See, e.g., L´Oréal, Biotherm, Lancôme Parfums et Beauté & Cie v. Unasi, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2005-0623. Panels may draw inferences about bad faith registration or use in light of the circumstances, including the provision of false contact details in violation of the registration agreement, or failure to reply to a complaint. Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003.

The Panel infers that Respondent acquired the disputed domain name with awareness of Complainant's business because Complainant's EDREAMS trademark was already registered in various countries when the disputed domain name was registered in 2004, and, based on exhibits to the Complaint, Complainant's business had developed a broad Internet presence using the trademark by 2004. The Panel also agrees with Complainant's suggestion that this is a typical case of typo squatting: Respondent's intention was to register a name to direct users who misspelled “edreams” to Respondent's own website. E.g., EasyGroup IP Licensing Limited v. John Sansone, supra.

The Panel's inference that Respondent had awareness of Complainant's rights is further supported by the content of Respondent's website, which includes links to travel agencies and online air ticket sales, the same commercial area in which Complainant uses its trademarks.

The Panel finds therefore that the original domain name registration was made with the intention of trading on the value of Complainant's trademarks. The Panel concludes that Respondent deliberately attempted to attract Internet users to its website for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant's mark. Under the circumstances, this constitutes registration in bad faith for purposes of the Policy.

The Panel also concludes that the circumstances show bad faith use of the disputed domain name by Respondent, as elaborated below.

As noted above, Respondent's website shows that the disputed domain name is used to promote the products of competitors of Complainant. The Panel concludes that this activity evidences bad faith use by Respondent. Pfizer Inc. v. jg a/k/a Josh Green, Supra (citing Google, Inc. v. wwwgoogle.com and Jimmy Siavesh Behain, WIPO Case No. D2000-1240; Casio Keisanki Kabushiki Kaisha (Casio Computer Co., Ltd.) v. Jongchan Kim, WIPO Case No. D2003-0400; Downstream Technologies, LLC v. Bartels System GmbH, WIPO Case No. D2003-0088).4 Respondent's apparent failure to provide accurate contact details in accordance with his obligations under the registration agreement and the absence of filing a Response to the Complaint provide further support for the Panel's finding of bad faith.

The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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, <edreans.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Nasser A. Khasawneh
Sole Panelist

Dated: December 25, 2009

1 The Panel has undertaken limited research by visiting archives of the web pages to which the disputed domain name routes. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions. The Panel has also viewed online archives of the web pages to which the disputed domain name has routed in the past, on the Internet Archive at “www.archive.org”.

2 Shortly after the Complaint was filed, Respondent's website displayed the parking page with third-party links, an appearance similar to that shown in the exhibits to the Complaint. As of this writing, however, the webpage has again been changed to redirect traffic to one of Complainant's Edreams websites.

The Panel finds that this recent change of Respondent's website (and the prior redirection to Complainant's websites from time to time) cannot create legitimate rights or interests for Respondent. It would have been helpful to the Panel for Complainant to come forward with the information that the website had at times redirected to Complainant's own websites, and to address the potential significance of that use by Respondent.

3 Complainant also avers that Respondent probably intended to attempt to sell the disputed domain name to Complainant. While this may be a reasonable supposition, the Panel cannot make a finding given the lack of evidence on the record.

4 Since Respondent's website has from time to time redirected users to various websites of Complainant, and because the Panel infers that Respondent is earning revenues from the links to other websites that appear on the parking page, the Panel does not agree with Complainant's allegation that the website has been inactive for five years.