World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Sanofi-Aventis v. 搜商商

Case No. D2010-1005

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Sanofi-Aventis of Gentilly Cedex, France, represented by Selarl Marchais De Candé, France.

The Respondent is 搜商商 of the People’s Republic of China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sanofi-anventis.com> is registered with Xiamen eName Network Technology Corporation Limited dba eName Corp.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 17, 2010. On June 18, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Xiamen eName Network Technology Corporation Limited dba eName Corp. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 22, 2010, Xiamen eName Network Technology Corporation Limited dba eName Corp. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On June 22, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of proceedings. On June 25, 2010, the Complainant submitted a request that English be the language of proceedings. The Respondent did not comment on the language of proceedings by the specified due date. In response to a notification by the Center regarding the registrant identity, the Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 25, 2010. The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 June 29, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 19, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 20, 2010.

The Center appointed Linda Chang as the sole panelist in this matter on July 29, 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 Panel notes the Complainant's request that English be the language of the proceeding, and further that the Respondent, although provided with copies of the Center's case-related documents in both English and Chinese, has not elected to respond to either this request or to the Complaint. Based on the evidence in the case file, it is not foreseeable that the Respondent will be prejudiced if English is adopted as the language of the proceeding. Consequently, the Panel will render its decision in English.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant was formed in 2004 by a merger of two French companies, Aventis SA and Sanofi-Synthelabo, creating one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with a presence in over 100 countries and 5 continents.

The Complainant is the registered owner of the trademark SANOFI AVENTIS in numerous jurisdictions.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on November 17, 2009.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Disputed Domain Name Is Confusingly Similar to the Complainant’s Trademark

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark to which the Complainant has rights.

The Complainant states that it owns the following registrations:

Trademark

Country

Registration

Filing Date

SANOFI AVENTIS

(+ device)

Community Trademark

4054193

September 28, 2004

SANOFI AVENTIS

Community Trademark

4025318

September 14, 2004

SANOFI AVENTIS

(+ device)

France

43309318

August 20, 2004

SANOFI AVENTIS

France

43288019

April 26, 2004

SANOFI AVENTIS

Canada

TMA668558

October 26, 2004

The Complainant also states that it owns the following international trademark registrations:

- SANOFI AVENTIS (+ device), number 849323, registered on February 17, 2005; and

- SANOFI AVENTIS, number 839358 registered on October 1, 2004, designating among others Australia, Georgia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, United States of America, Switzerland, China, the Republic of Cuba, Romania, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine.

The Complainant also states that it has registered and used in connection with its business activities several domain names as follows:

<sanofi-aventis.com> registered on March 14, 2004;

<sanofi-aventis.us> registered on April 26, 2004;

<sanofi-aventis.biz> registered on April 26, 2004;

<sanofi-aventis.info> registered on April 26, 2004;

<sanofi-aventis.net> registered on April 26, 2004;

<sanofi-aventis.org> registered on April 26, 2004;

<sanofl-aventis.eu> registered on March 10, 2006.

The Complainant contends that the term “sanofi aventis” has no particular meaning and is highly distinctive.

The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademarks and the only difference between the Complainant’s trademarks and the disputed domain name is the purposeful misspelling, namely the addition of the letter “n” to “aventis” in <sanofi-anventis.com>. This is sufficient to create confusion between the disputed domain name and the trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.

Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the addition of the letter “n” to “aventis” in the disputed domain name is not sufficient to alleviate the likelihood of confusion between the Complainant’s trademarks and the disputed domain name.

The Respondent Has No Rights Or Legitimate Interests in the Disputed Domain Name

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no legitimate interest to justify the use of the SANOFI AVENTIS trademarks.

The Complainant states that it has never licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademarks or to apply for domain names incorporating its trademarks. Therefore, there is no relationship whatsoever between the Complainant and the Respondent.

Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

The Complainant states that it is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, pointing to the following:

- it is ranked first in Europe and ranked fourth in the world in the pharmaceutical industry;

- the SANOFI AVENTIS trademarks are well-known worldwide;

- it is the owner of different domain names using the terms “sanofi aventis”;

- the “notoriety” of SANOFI AVENTIS has been recognized by other WIPO panels.

Hence, the Complainant contends that that Respondent must have been aware of the existence of the Complainant’s worldwide famous trademarks and it had sought to take advantage of Internet users typing an incorrect address when seeking to access the Complainant’s website.

According to the Complainant the disputed domain name leads to an inactive website, constituting passive use of the disputed domain name. According to the Complainant the Respondent uses the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant or to a competitor of the Complainant.

Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent’s failure to reply to the Complainant’s cease and desist letter constitutes further evidence of the Respondent’s bad faith.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove all of the following in order for its contentions to be supported in the proceeding:

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

(ii) the 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.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant is the registered owner of the trademark SANOFI AVENTIS and has acquired substantial goodwill in this trademark. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks in appearance and pronunciation.

Compared to the Complainant’s trademark, the disputed domain name completely reproduces the trademark with the only difference being the mere addition of the letter “n” after the “a” in “aventis”, which makes “anventis” instead of “aventis”.

“Anventis” is not a recognized English word; it is also not a word in Chinese, the official language of China where the Respondent is apparently located. The close similarity to “aventis”, as well as its coupling with “sanofi” strongly suggests that “anventis” is an intentional misspelling of the Complainant’s highly distinctive trademark. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar in appearance to the Complainant’s trademark.

Moreover, the pronunciation of the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to that of the Complainant’s trademarks. The addition of the “n” does not change the short vowel sound of the preceding letter “a” and thus both words are pronounced in a substantially and confusingly similar manner.

Hence, the addition of the letter “n” is insufficient to differentiate the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s trademark and they are nearly indistinguishable, both in writing and in pronunciation. The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is clearly, and intentionally, confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Complainant has made a prima facie showing of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name. There is nothing in the record to suggest the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, to suggest that it has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, or to suggest that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. Therefore, the responsibility of providing evidence of rights or legitimate interests shifts to the Respondent. However, the Respondent has not responded to the Complainant’s claims.

The Panel can only make its decision based on the information and evidence submitted before it and, given the circumstances, believes that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has met the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant’s SANOFI AVENTIS trademark has been registered in multiple jurisdictions worldwide, and the Complainant’s products trade marked as SANOFI-AVENTIS are leading pharmaceutical products sold worldwide. Given the distinctiveness of the Complainant’s trademarks, the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the name “Sanofi-Anventis” as well as the fact that the disputed domain name has not been used in connection with an active website, the Panel is convinced that the purpose of the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name is to capitalize on the goodwill of the trademark by registering a close variation of the trademark as a domain name and holding it for possible future commercial opportunities. This behavior constitutes bad faith registration and use of the domain name.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith and has met the requirements of 4(a)(iii) 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 disputed domain name <sanofi-anventis.com> be cancelled.

Linda Chang
Sole Panelist
Date: August 23, 2010

 

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