WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Groupe Partouche v. Mandarin Data Processing, Eric Richard
Case No. D2010-1618
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Groupe Partouche of Paris, France, represented by SafeNames Ltd., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Respondent is Mandarin Data Processing, Eric Richard of Belize City, Belize.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <bingo-partouche.com>, <bingopartouche.com> and <partouche-poker-tour.com> are registered with EuroDNS S.A.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 24, 2010. On September 24, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to EuroDNS S.A. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On September 29, 2010, EuroDNS S.A. 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 September 29, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 19, 2010. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 21, 2010.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on October 22, 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 is Groupe Partouche, an international leader especially in the field of casinos. The Complainant also owns restaurants, hotels and provides entertainment services such as online gaming. It was created in France in 1973.
The Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations containing PARTOUCHE in France and other countries, just as the Complainant is the owner of several domain name registrations containing PARTOUCHE, including <partouche.com>. The Complainant provided evidence in support of its trademark and domain name registrations.
The Respondent’s domain names were registered on March 3, 2006 and February 13, 2006 respectively. At the time of the filing of the present Complaint, all the disputed domain names pointed to webpages making reference to the Complainant’s online gaming activity with links to other websites providing similar services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that the disputed domain names <bingo-partouche.com>, <bingopartouche.com> and <partouche-poker-tour.com> are confusingly similar to its trademark PARTOUCHE, with the mere addition of the words “bingo” and “poker-tour”, which are generic or descriptive terms that do not change the fact that the Complainant’s trademark is incorporated in full in the disputed domain names.
Moreover, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names since it has not been authorized by the Complainant to register and use the disputed domain names and is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain names.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered, used, and continues to use the disputed domain names in bad faith. In fact, the Complainant asserts that its trademark PARTOUCHE enjoys international reputation, in particular in the poker industry, and the Respondent could not have registered the disputed domain names without knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark rights. By doing so, the Respondent is trying to use the reputation of the Complainant’s trademark to advertise its own business and website, by claiming an affiliation with the Complainant and therefore causing confusion between the Complainant’s trademark and the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain names are 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 names; and
(iii) the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all three elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain names all contain the Complainant’s distinctive trademark PARTOUCHE in full. The addition of the generic terms “bingo” and “poker-tour” respectively, as well as the inclusion of the gTLD denomination “.com”, does not alter the finding of the Panel that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademarks and that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy therefore are fulfilled.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
According to the Complaint, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark or to apply for any domain name incorporating its mark.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. The Respondent has not rebutted this by way of a formal Response or otherwise. The disputed domain names were registered several years after the Complainant first registered and started using its trademark, and the Respondent is currently using the disputed domain names for websites that contain only links to other websites – among others links to websites that offers products and services that are similar to those offered by the Complainant. The Respondent thus could not credibly claim that the disputed domain names are intended to be used for any legitimate interests.
Consequently the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, with reference to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain names in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy provides an example of circumstances which shall be evidence of registration and use in bad faith.
The Panel is satisfied under the specific circumstances of the present case that the Respondent was likely to have been aware of the Complainant, its PARTOUCHE mark and the Complainant’s activities when registering the disputed domain names. Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that it chose domain names which could attract Internet users in a manner that is likely to create confusion for such users.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain names were registered in bad faith.
Further, at the time of rendering this decision the disputed domain names were used for websites that contained links to other websites including links related to online gaming services. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent by its registration and use of the disputed domain names, intentionally created a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the disputed domain names with the purpose of attracting Internet users to the websites for commercial gain. This finding is supported by the fact that the same conclusion has been reached against the Respondent in other cases under the UDRP.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant has proven element 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 names <bingo-partouche.com>, <bingopartouche.com> and <partouche-poker-tour.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: November 5, 2010