World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc. v. Chen Lin

Case No. D2010-1518

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc. of Red Wing, Minesota, United States of America, represented by Bricker & Eckler LLP of United States of America.

The Respondent is Chen Lin of Putian, Fujian, People’s Republic of China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <redwings-shoes.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 September 8, 2010. On September 10, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to Xin Net Technology Corp. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 13, 2010, Xin Net Technology Corp. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the Respondent’s contact details. On September 16, 2010, the Center transmitted an email to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of the proceeding. On September 21, 2010, the Complainant submitted a request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding by the due date.

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 September 23, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 13, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 14, 2010.

The Center appointed Sebastian Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on October 21, 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

A. The Complainant

The Complainant is a company incorporated in the United States of America and the owner of registrations for the RED WING SHOES & device, RED WING and RED WINGS trade marks in the United States of America (“the Trade Marks”). The Complainant is also the owner of the domain names <redwing.com> and <redwingshoes.com>.

B. The Respondent

The Respondent is an individual apparently with an address in the People’s Republic of China.

The disputed domain name <redwings-shoes.com> was registered on January 13, 2010.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant was founded in 1905 and is a well-known United States based manufacturer of shoes and footwear under the Trade Marks. The Complainant’s domestic sales under the Trade Marks since 2005 have been approximately USD1.6 billion. In addition to its domestic sales, the Complainant sells its footwear under the Trade Marks throughout Europe and in Japan.

Since 2003, the Complainant has spent over USD70 million in advertising, marketing and promoting the Trade Marks in the United States market.

The Complainant exercises strict control over its agents and distributors and does not permit advertising or sale of its footwear online.

The website to which the disputed domain name is resolved (“the Website”) offers for sale unauthorised counterfeit footwear under the Trade Marks. It features prominently the Trade Marks, including the famous RED WING and device trade mark. Although the Website claims to be offering for sale genuine Red Wing footwear, the footwear offered for sale on the Website is counterfeit.

The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith to intentionally attract users, for commercial gain, to the Website, by creating confusion with the Complainant’s Trade Marks.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Language of the Proceeding

The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese. Pursuant to Rules, paragraph 11, in the absence of an agreement between the parties, or unless specified otherwise in the registration agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement. From the evidence presented in the record, no agreement appears to have been entered into between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the proceeding should be English.

Paragraph 11(a) allows the Panel to determine the language of the proceeding having regard to all the circumstances. In particular, it is established practice to take paragraphs 10(b) and (c) of the Rules into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceeding. In other words, it is important to ensure fairness to the parties and the maintenance of an inexpensive and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes. Language requirements should not lead to undue burdens being placed on the parties and undue delay to the proceeding (Whirlpool Corporation, Whirlpool Properties, Inc. v. Hui’erpu (HK) Electrical Appliance Co. Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2008-0293; Solvay S.A. v. Hyun-Jun Shin, WIPO Case No. D2006-0593).

In support of its request that English be the language of the proceeding, the Complainant has repeated the submissions in the Complaint regarding the bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name. The gist of the Complainant’s submissions regarding the language of the proceeding is that the disputed domain name is being used to promote and sell counterfeit RED WING shoes via the Website, which is entirely in the English language.

The Respondent did not make any submissions with respect to the language of the proceeding and did not object to the use of English as the language of the proceeding.

On September 13, 2010 Xin Net Technology Corp. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese.

In exercising its discretion to use a language other than that of the registration agreement, the panel has to exercise such discretion judicially in the spirit of fairness and justice to both parties, taking into account all relevant circumstances of the case, including matters such as the parties’ ability to understand and use the proposed language, time and costs (Groupe Auchan v. xmxzl, WIPO Case No. DCC2006-0004; Finter Bank Zurich v. Shumin Peng, WIPO Case No. D2006-0432).

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

The Panel nonetheless finds that evidence has been adduced by the Complainant to suggest the likely possibility that the Respondent is conversant and proficient in the English language (Finter Bank Zurich v. Shumin Peng, supra). The Panel is in particular persuaded by the fact the Website is entirely in English language and is therefore directed towards English language speakers.

In view of the above, it is not foreseeable that the Respondent will be prejudiced, should English be adopted as the language of the proceeding.

Having considered all the matters above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) that English shall be the language of the proceeding.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the Trade Marks acquired through use and registration which predate by many decades the date of registration of the disputed domain name.

UDRP panels have consistently held that domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark for purposes of the Policy “when the domain name includes the trade mark, or a confusingly similar approximation, regardless of the other terms in the domain name” (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662).

It is also established that the addition of generic terms to the disputed domain name has little, if any, effect on a determination of confusing similarity between the domain name and the mark (Quixtar Investments, Inc. v. Dennis Hoffman, WIPO Case No. D2000-0253); furthermore, mere addition of a generic or descriptive term does generally not exclude the likelihood of confusion (PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2006-0189).

In the present case, the addition of the generic word “shoes” does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the RED WING and RED WINGS trade marks in any way.

Similarly, the addition of a hyphen does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Trade Marks.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Marks.

The Panel therefore holds that the Complaint fulfills the first condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:

(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organisation) have been commonly known by the domain name even if you have acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trade mark or service mark at issue.

There is no evidence that the Complainant has authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name or to use the Trade Marks. The Complainant has prior rights in the Trade Marks which precede the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name by decades. There is therefore a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the burden is thus on the Respondent to produce evidence to rebut this presumption (Do The Hustle, LLC v.Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).

The Complainant has asserted that the Website is used by the Respondent to market unauthorised, counterfeit goods. There can be no legitimate interest in the sale of counterfeits (Lilly ICOS LLC v. Dan Eccles, WIPO Case No. D2004-0750).

The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any trade mark rights in respect of the disputed domain name or that the disputed domain name is used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name.

There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to establish rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore finds that the Complaint fulfills the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, the following conduct amounts to registration and use in bad faith on the part of the Respondent:

“By using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”

The Complainant has submitted compelling evidence to suggest that the disputed domain name has been used to offer for sale counterfeit Red Wing footwear via the Website. This is strong evidence of bad faith (Prada S.A. v. Domains For Life, WIPO Case No. D2004-1019).

The Panel therefore finds the requisite element of bad faith has been satisfied, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

Given the circumstances of this case, the Panel also considers the failure of the Respondent to file a Response to the Complaint further supports an inference of bad faith (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. (This Domain is For Sale) Joshuathan Investments, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0787).

For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.

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 <redwings-shoes.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Sebastian Hughes
Sole Panelist
Dated: October 28, 2010

 

Explore WIPO