WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Balenciaga v. Domain Admin, PrivacyProtect.org / Registrant ID: DI_11510492 Wan Hao, Danshi
Case No. D2010-2082
1. The Parties
Complainant is Balenciaga of Paris, France, represented by Sylvain Hirsch of IP Twins S.A.S., France.
Respondent is Domain Admin, PrivacyProtect.org / Registrant ID: DI_11510492 Wan Hao, Danshi of Moergestel, the Netherlands and Shishou City, Hubei, People’s Republic of China, respectively.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <balenciaga-handbags.org> is registered with Directi Internet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 3, 2010. On December 3, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 4, 2010, the Registrar 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 Complainant on December 8, 2010 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint on December 13, 2010.
The Center verified that 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 Respondent of the Amended Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 16, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 5, 2011. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on January 7, 2011.
The Center appointed Nicolas Ulmer as the sole panelist in this matter on January 12, 2011. 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 is a French company with worldwide operations in the fashion and apparel business. Complainant holds numerous trademarks that include BALENCIAGA. The marks are registered in numerous jurisdictions including the European Union, the United States of America, Canada and the People’s Republic of China. The name “Balenciaga” derives from the last name of the Spanish designer, Cristobal Balenciaga, who founded its first haute couture house in 1918. Complainant sells luxury items, including handbags, which are widely known and used and very well-known in the media. Complainant also owns multiple registered websites making use of the Balenciaga name. The disputed domain name was registered on or about May 3, 2010.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant maintains that Respondent is obviously trading on its name, and exploiting the same for unauthorized commercial gain. Complainant asserts that it has never licensed the BALENCIAGA trademark to Respondent, and that Respondent has no right to use it. Complainant thus directly maintains that the three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are clearly established and requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to it.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, Complainant must prove the following:
(i) Respondent’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) Respondent’s domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name contains the entirety of Complainant’s well-known and extensively registered mark BALENCIAGA. The addition of the word “handbags” only adds to the confusion created by the disputed domain name, as this is one of Complainant’s products. Thus the first element of the Policy listed above is readily met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Complainant clearly asserts that Respondent has no connection, license or other rights to the use of Complainant’s marks or name. Nor is there any evidence or basis to infer that Respondent has any such rights, or is known by the name Balenciaga. By failing to answer the Complaint, Respondent has not rebutted Complainant’s prima facie case that Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant has therefore successfully established the second requirement of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the Panel’s view the long standing renown of the BALENCIAGA mark and brand is such that it is clear that Respondent must have registered the disputed domain name in bad faith and with knowledge of Complainant’s prior rights. This is further confirmed by an examination of the contents of the site to which the disputed domain name resolves, and which was submitted in copy by Complainant. The site is dedicated to the sale of Balenciaga handbags and other purported Balenciaga products. This is a precise example of the type of bad faith registration and use listed at 4(b) of the Policy. Thus Complainant has met and proven paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy as well, as it has made clear that Respondent has used the disputed domain name for “commercial gain… by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of [the disputed] web site or location or of a product or service on [the disputed] web site or location” pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) 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 domain name, <balenciaga-handbags.org>, be transferred to Complainant.
Dated: January 18, 2011