World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Groupe E.S.S.E.C. v. bailili / ZhaoYanXiao

Case No. D2010-1322

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Groupe E.S.S.E.C. of Cergypontoise Cedex, France represented by Selarl BRM Avocats, France.

The Respondent is bailili / ZhaoYanXiao of Beijing, the People’s Republic of China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <essecn.com> is registered with Xin Net Technology Corp.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 5, 2010. On the same day the Center transmitted by email to Xin Net Technology Corp. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 6, 2010, Xin Net Technology Corp. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on August 10, 2010, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on August 12, 2010. On August 10, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of proceedings. On August 12, 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. The Center verified that the Complaint and 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 August 16, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was September 5, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 8, 2010.

The Center appointed Jonathan Agmon as the sole panelist in this matter on September 15, 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

The Complainant, Groupe ESSEC, is French business school, created in 1913. The Complainant has branches in different territories around the world, some of which are in Asia.

The Complainant has been using the ESSEC mark in connection with its business and owns multiple trademark registrations for this mark in many countries around the world. For example: French trademark registration No. 1374567 – ESSEC, with the filing date of October 13, 1986; Community trademark registration No. 000989798 – ESSEC, with the registration date of August 3, 2001; International trademark registration No. 702340 – ESSEC logo, designated for the Swiss Confederation, China, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, the Russian Federation and Vietnam, with the registration date of November 10, 1998; International trademark registration No. 881772 – ESSEC, designated for Japan, the Russian Federation and Singapore, with the registration date of March 16, 2006; and others.

The Complainant has also developed a formidable presence on the Internet and is the owner of several domain names, which contain the term “essec”. For example: <essec.com>, (essec.net>, <essec.asia>, <essecalumni.asia>, <essec-mba.asia>, <essec-mba.asia> and many others. The Complainant is using these domain names in connection with its activities.

The disputed domain name <essecn.com> was registered by the Respondent on August 16, 2009.

The disputed domain name resolves to a parking webpage, which displays the following announcement: “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”. The Complainant alleges that this disputed domain name used to resolve to an on-line webpage, which offered information regarding nutrition and scientific articles, as well as links to companies that engage in the sale of nutritionals, diet and energy products.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant argues that it has established significant goodwill in the ESSEC mark, which has become well-known for educational services.

The Complainant also argues that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the ESSEC trademark, owned by the Complainant, seeing that it incorporates the trademark as a whole. The Complainant further argues that the additional letter in the disputed domain name is insufficient to avoid confusing similarity between the ESSEC trademark and the disputed domain name.

The Complainant further argues that it has rights to the ESSEC trademarks as this trademark is widely recognized with the Complainant and with its operation.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent did not make legitimate use in the disputed domain name.

The Complainant further argues that the disputed domain name is likely to mislead or confuse the public as to its source or origin.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s existence and of the ESSEC trademark and products at the time he registered the disputed domain name.

For all of the above reasons, the Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Procedural Issue – Language of the Proceedings

Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that:

“Unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.”

The language of the registration agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese.

The Complainant requested that the language of proceedings should be in English.

The Panel cites the following with approval:

“Thus, the general rule is that the parties may agree on the language of the administrative proceeding. In the absence of this agreement, the language of the Registration Agreement shall dictate the language of the proceeding. However, the Panel has the discretion to decide otherwise having regard to the circumstances of the case. The Panel’s discretion must be exercised judicially in the spirit of fairness and justice to both parties taking into consideration matters such as command of the language, time and costs. It is important that the language finally decided by the Panel for the proceeding is not prejudicial to either one of the parties in his or her abilities to articulate the arguments for the case. “ (Groupe Auchan v. xmxzl, WIPO Case No. DCC2006-0004).

The Panel finds that in the present case, the following should be taken into consideration upon deciding on the language of proceedings:

a) The disputed domain name <essecn.com> consists of Latin letters, rather than Chinese letters;

b) The disputed domain name <essecn.com> used to resolve to a website that incorporated both the English and the Chinese languages. This is a testimony to the Respondent's familiarity with the English language;

c) The Respondent did not object to the Complainant’s request that English be the language of proceedings.

Upon considering the above, the Panel decides to render the Complainant’s request and rules that English be the language of proceedings.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.

A registered trademark provides a clear indication that the rights in the mark shown on the trademark certificate belong to its respective owner. The Complainant owns multiple trademark registrations for the mark ESSEC. For example: French trademark registration No. 1374567 – ESSEC, with the filing date of October 13, 1986; Community trademark registration No. 000989798 – ESSEC, with the registration date of August 3, 2001; International trademark registration No. 702340 – ESSEC logo, designated for the Swiss Confederation, China, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, the Russian Federation and Vietnam, with the registration date of November 10, 1998; International trademark registration No. 881772 – ESSEC, designated for Japan, the Russian Federation and Singapore, with the registration date of March 16, 2006; and others.

The disputed domain name <essecn.com> differs from the registered ESSEC trademark by the additional suffix "n" and the additional gTLDs “.com”.

The disputed domain name integrates the Complainant’s ESSEC trademark in its entirety, as a dominant element.

The additional letter "n" does not serve sufficiently to distinguish or differentiate the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s ESSEC trademark. This is especially true as this addition does not create a meaning to the disputed domain name.

Previous WIPO UDRP panels have ruled that the mere addition of a non-significant element does not sufficiently differentiate the domain name from the registered trademark: “The incorporation of a trademark in its entirety is sufficient to establish that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered mark” (Britannia Building Society v. Britannia Fraud Prevention, WIPO Case No. D2001-0505). Also, “the trademark RED BULL is clearly the most prominent element in this combination, and that may cause the public to think that the domain name <redbull-jp.net> is somehow connected with the owner of RED BULL trademark” (Red Bull GmbH v. PREGIO Co., Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2006-0909).

The addition of the gTLD ".com" to the disputed domain name does not avoid confusing similarity. See, F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. Macalve e-dominios S.A., WIPO Case No. D2006-0451 and Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. Thus, the gTLD ".com” is without legal significance since the use of a gTLD is technically required to operate the domain name.

The result is that the Complainant has shown that the above disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark, in which the Complainant has rights.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Once the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, the burden shifts to the Respondent to show that he has rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain name.

In the present case, the Complainant claimed that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. However, such claim was made without providing clear information as to whether the Complainant has allowed the Respondent to use the disputed domain name. From the general allegations made in the Complaint the Panel finds that the Complainant is making the argument that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests such that the Complainant has not approved the use of the ESSEC mark by the Respondent.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has established such a prima facie case inter alia due to the fact that Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the ESSEC trademark, or a variation thereof. The Respondent had not submitted a Response and did not provide any evidence to show any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name that are sufficient to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant must show that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii)). Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides circumstances that may prove bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii).

The Complainant submitted evidence, which shows that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names after the Complainant registered its trademark. According to the evidence filed by the Complainant and the trademark search performed by the Panel, the Complainant owns registrations for the ESSEC trademark at least since the year 1986. It is suggestive of the Respondent’s bad faith in these particular circumstances that the trademark, owned by the Complainant, was registered long before the registration of the disputed domain name (Sanofi-Aventis v. Abigail Wallace, WIPO Case No. D2009-0735).

Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy provides that it will be considered bad faith registration and use by the respondent, if by using the domain name it had intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the websites or other on-line locations to which the disputed domain name is resolved to, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the websites or locations or of a product or service on the websites or locations to which the domain name is resolved to.

The disputed domain name resolves to a parking webpage, which displays the following announcement: “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”. The Complainant alleges that this disputed domain name used to resolve to an on-line webpage, which offered information regarding nutrition and scientific articles, as well as links to companies that engage in the sale of nutritionals, diet and energy products.

The disputed domain name currently resolves to a parking webpage, which displays an error announcement. Nevertheless, the disputed domain name used to resolve to an on-line webpage, which offered information regarding nutrition and scientific articles, as well as links to companies that engage in the sale of nutritionals, diet and energy products.

The Respondent's previous use of the disputed domain name included the offering of commercial links, referring to other websites. The Respondent’s previous use of the ESSEC mark to promote the sale of goods and services is clearly an attempt to ride on the ESSEC trademark's reputation. This in this Panel’s view indicates that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with knowledge of the Complainant and the Complainant's ESSEC trademark and their reputation, and subsequent intent to trade off the value of these. The Respondent’s actions therefore constitute bad faith. See Herbalife International, Inc. v. Surinder S. Farmaha, WIPO Case No. D2005-0765, stating that “the registration of a domain name with the knowledge of the complainant’s trademark registration amounts to bad faith”.

The disputed domain name currently resolves to a parking webpage, which displays an error announcement. However, the fact that the Respondent does not use this domain name does not preclude the Panel from finding bad faith, having taken regard of all the circumstances of this case. See Mobimate Ltd. v. “World Mate” and Sachiwo Inagaki, WIPO Case No. D2008-1867.

The Panel also notes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. Previous WIPO UDRP panels ruled that “a likelihood of confusion is presumed, and such confusion will inevitably result in the diversion of Internet traffic from the Complainant’s site to the Respondent’s site” (see Edmunds.com, Inc v. Triple E Holdings Limited, WIPO Case No. D2006-1095). To this end, prior WIPO UDRP panels have established that attracting Internet traffic by using a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark may be evidence of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP.

In addition, the Panel notes the Respondent engaged in typo-squatting. Indeed, “domain names which constitute typo-squatting are confusingly similar by definition; it is this similarity which makes them attractive.” (Dell Computer Corporation v. Clinical Evaluations, WIPO Case No. D2002-0423). Previous UDRP panels have ruled that "It is generally held that typo-squatting per se is sufficient to establish registration and use in bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy and the Panel considers the disputed domain name to be a typical example of typo-squatting" (SurePayroll, Inc. v. Web Advertising, Corp., WIPO Case No. D2007-0470).

Based on the evidence presented to the Panel, including the late registration of the disputed domain name, the use of the ESSEC trademark in the disputed domain name and the Respondent’s typo-squatting behavior, the Panel draws the inference that the disputed domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

Accordingly, having regard to the circumstances of this particular case, the Panel finds that the Complainant has met its burden under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

It is therefore the finding of the Panel that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

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 <essecn.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonathan Agmon
Sole Panelist
Dated: September 24, 2010

 

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