World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels Corporation, HLT Domestic IP LLC and HLT International IP LLC v. Private Whois Service

Case No. D2010-1067

1. The Parties

Complainants are Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels Corporation, HLT Domestic IP LLC and HLT International IP LLC of McLean, Virginia, United States of America, (collectively, “Complainant”) represented by The GigaLaw Firm, United States of America.

Respondent is Private Whois Service of Nassau, Bahamas.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <hiltonhotel.com> (“Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with Internet.bs Corp. (“Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 28, 2010. On June 29, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Registrar a request for verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On June 29, 2010, Registrar 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 July 2, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 22, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 23, 2010.

The Center appointed Mark Ming-Jen Yang as the sole panelist in this matter on July 27, 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.

4. Factual Background

Complainant has registered numerous trademarks worldwide that consist of or contain the mark HILTON in connection with its hospitality services, including these in the United States of America (collectively, “HILTON Trademark”):

U.S. Reg. No.

Date of Registration

Goods or Services

845,172

February 27, 1968

hotel reservation services

2,478,190

August 14, 2001

hotel services

2,649,645

November 12, 2002, First use since October 15, 1994

casinos and entertainment services

Complainant is the registrant of the domain name <hilton.com> (registered November 23, 1994) and the domain name <hiltonhotels.com> (registered January 8, 1999), both of which it uses in connection with its services offered under the HILTON Trademark.

The Disputed Domain Name was registered on April 9, 2002.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends (in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy) that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar with the HILTON Trademark in which it has rights; that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name; and that Respondent registered and uses the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions and is in default.

6. Discussion and Findings

One fundamental requirement of due process is that a respondent has notice of proceedings that may substantially affect its rights. The Policy, Rules, and Supplemental Rules establish procedures intended to assure that a respondent is given adequate notice of proceedings commenced against it and a reasonable opportunity to respond (see, e.g., Rules, paragraph 2(a)).

In this case, the Panel is satisfied that the Center took all steps reasonably necessary to notify Respondent of the filing of the Complaint and initiation of these proceedings and that the failure of Respondent to furnish a Response to the Complaint is not due to any omission by the Center. There is sufficient evidence in the case file for the Panel to conclude that the Center discharged its obligations under Rules, paragraph 2(a) (see Section 3, Procedural History, supra).

In case of default, under paragraph 14(a) of the Rules, “the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the complaint”, and under paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, “the Panel shall draw such inferences [from the default] as it considers appropriate.” Furthermore, paragraph 15(a) of the Rules provides that “[a] Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.” Since Respondent has not submitted any evidence, the Panel will render its decision on the basis of the uncontroverted evidence supplied by Complainant.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainant contends that it has rights in the HILTON Trademark and that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar thereto.

In particular, Complainant contends that, “Complainant is the most recognized name in the global lodging industry, offering more than 3,500 hotels and 188,000 rooms in 81 countries across six continents, under the following brands: HILTON, HILTON GARDEN INN, HILTON GRAND VACATIONS […] Complainant’s roots date to 1919, when Conrad Hilton bought his first hotel […] Today, more than 130,000 people work for Complainant and its hotels The “Hilton” hotel brand is Complainant’s flagship brand, which Complainant or its predecessors has used since 1925 in connection with hospitality services.”

The Panel accepts the preceding contentions as uncontroverted, convincing and supported by the evidence, and the Panel concludes that Complainant has rights in the HILTON Trademark.

Complainant contends that because the Disputed Domain Name wholly incorporates its HILTON Trademark and adds only the generic component of “hotel”, there is confusing similarity.

The Panel accepts the preceding contentions on confusing similarity as uncontroverted, convincing and supported by the evidence, and finds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HILTON Trademark.

The Panel concludes that Complainant has met the first requirement of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name.

In particular, Complainant contends that it, “has never assigned, granted, licensed, sold, transferred or in any way authorized […] Respondent to register or use the HILTON Trademark in any manner […] Upon information and belief, Respondent has never used, or made preparations to use, the Disputed Domain Name or any name corresponding to the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Therefore, Respondent cannot establish rights or legitimate interests pursuant to paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy. Specifically, Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name to redirect Internet users to a monetized parking page at “http://www.discountedhotel.com” that includes links to websites offering services competitive with those offered by Complainant under the HILTON Trademark, including links labeled “Discounted hotel,” “Hotel reservation,” “Extended stay America hotels” […] Such use is not a bona fide offering of goods or services under the Policy”.

Respondent has provided no arguments or evidence of rights or legitimate interests to counter Complainant’s preceding contentions. By virtue of the aforedescribed legal rights of Complainant in the HILTON Trademark, Complainant convincingly argues that Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. The Panel, especially in the absence of any response from Respondent, considers that the circumstances described in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, regarding the circumstances in which Respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name, likely do not exist.

The Panel concludes that Complainant has met the second requirement of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Complainant contends that Respondent registered and is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.

In particular, Complainant contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted, convincing and supported by the evidence) that Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith by doing so with knowledge of Complainant’s HILTON Trademark, its earlier domain name registrations (see above Section 4) and its long-standing marketplace reputation (see above Section 6, subsection A).

Complainant further contends (and the Panel accepts as uncontroverted, convincing and supported by the evidence) that Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith by using it to redirect Internet users to a monetized parking page that includes links to websites offering services competitive with those offered by Complainant under the HILTON Trademark (see above Section 6, subsection B).

The Panel concludes that Complainant has met the third requirement 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 <hiltonhotel.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Mark Ming-Jen Yang
Sole Panelist
Dated: August 10, 2010

 

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