The Complainant is La Quinta Worldwide L.L.C., Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, represented by Lydecker, Lee, Berga & de Zayas, L.L.C., United States of America.
The Respondent is Qin Yue, Beijing, the People's Republic of China.
The disputed domain name <laquintamotel.net> is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 22, 2010. On January 25, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 26, 2010, GoDaddy.com, Inc. 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” 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 28, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 17, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on February 22, 2020.
The Center appointed Jon Lang as the sole panelist in this matter on March 10, 2010. 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.
The Complainant is a substantial business, in operation since 1968. It owns and operates hotels under the “La Quinta” name, some 700 of them in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. It employs over 9,000 people.
The Complainant has a number of U.S. trade mark registrations e.g. LA QUINTA (Reg No. 0875802, registered on August 26, 1969), LA QUINTA INN (Reg No. 1841032, registered on June 21, 1994) and also a number of foreign registrations in over 50 countries. Moreover, it has registered a number of domain names e.g. <laquinta.com>, <laquintainn.com>.
In March 2009, the Respondent registered <laquintamotel.net>, the domain name in dispute (the Domain Name).
On October 7, 2009 and again on October 23, 2009 the Complainant requested a transfer of the Domain Name from the Respondent. Neither request met with a response.
Little is known about the Respondent as he has not taken part in these proceedings.
The La Quinta name permeates the United States of America and international hospitality market and is synonymous with the Complainant's hotels, motels and inns. It is associated globally with the Complainant's business and is a famous trademark worldwide.
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to its LA QUINTA trade marks on which it spends considerable sums advertising and promoting.
The “La Quinta”' name is recognizable in all the Complainant's marks. The Domain Name is so similar to the Complainant's trademarks that they are more than likely to be confused. The use of the word “motel” does nothing to reduce this confusing similarity. Motels i.e. holiday accommodation, is the very industry in which the Complainant carries on business.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. He has not made any legitimate use of it since registration and indeed, could not possibly do so.
There is no evidence to suggest a use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or indeed any use. The Respondent is making no use of the Domain Name other than to divert potential customers from the Complainant's official site.
The Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial fair use of the Domain Name.
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The fame of the LA QUINTA brand supports an imputation of knowledge of the Complainant's marks. Moreover, the combination of the La Quinta name with the word “motel” demonstrates knowledge of the Complainant's rights.
Despite the passive holding by the Respondent, the effect of the Domain Name being held by the Respondent can still be a diversion of consumers seeking the Complainant's official site.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires a complainant to prove that the respondent has registered a domain name which is
(i) identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) that respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A Complainant must prove each of these three elements.
Given that the name “La Quinta” comprises the dominant part of the Domain Name (being followed by the generic term “motel”), the Domain Name is clearly similar to the LA QUINTA trademark. In Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG v. Rojeen Rayaneh, WIPO Case No. D2004-0488 it was said “Long-established precedent has generally recognised confusing similarity where well-known trademarks have been adapted with a wide range of prefixes or suffixes”. The use of the word “motel” immediately after “La Quinta”, a very well known trademark, far from distinguishes the Domain Name from the trademark but rather increases the scope for confusion for obvious reasons.
Moreover, there is clearly a possibility if not likelihood that Internet users may be confused into thinking that the owner of the Domain Name is also the owner of the trademarks to which it is similar, or at least that there is some form of association between the Respondent and the Complainant.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the LA QUINTA trademarks.
The mere registration of a domain name does not give the owner a right or a legitimate interest in respect of that domain name. There must be something more.
In Drexel University v. David Brouda, WIPO Case No. D2001-0067 the panel stated that “rights or legitimate interests cannot be created where the user of the domain name at issue would not choose such a name unless he was seeking to create an impression of association with the Complainant.” The Respondent registered the Domain Name in March 2009 by which time the fame of the Complainant's brand was well established. It would be difficult to accept that the Respondent did not know of the Complainant's trademarks particularly given the combination of the Complainant's brand (LA QUINTA) with the term (motel), a term that is representative of the very industry in which the Complainant operates. Similarly, it would be difficult to accept that the Respondent had any legitimate intention in mind when registering the Domain Name and indeed the Respondent, given his lack of participation in these proceedings, has not sought to suggest any.
There is no evidence before this Panel that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. There is no evidence before this Panel to contradict or challenge the contentions of the Complainant. This Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name which has not been contradicted or challenged in anyway. The Panel therefore finds that this element too of paragraph 4 of the Policy is established.
It seems clear that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant and its trademarks when it registered the Domain Name. There is no evidence that that the Respondent had any legitimate purpose in mind at the time of registration. Indeed, the evidence points to the contrary. The potential disruption such registration could cause to the Complainant's business, even by a passive holding (given the possibility of diversion of Internet users looking for the Complainant's site) must have been obvious to the Respondent.
The fact that the Respondent has made no active use of the Domain Name does not prevent a finding of bad faith registration and in all the circumstances, including the lack of any response to the Complainant's letters sent in October 2009 and to this proceeding, the Panel finds that, for the purposes of the Policy, there is evidence of both registration and use of the Domain Name 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 domain name, <laquintamotel.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: April 2, 2010