World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Hermes International v. Pan Bing Huang

Case No. D2010-2275

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Hermes International of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Pan Bing Huang of Zhengzhou, Henan, the People’s Republic of China.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The disputed domain names <hermes-hi.com> and <hermes-taiwan.com> are registered with HiChina Zhicheng Technology Ltd. The disputed domain names <hermes2010.com> and <hermes2010-tw.com> are registered with Xin Net Technology Corp.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 27, 2010. On December 28, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to HiChina Zhicheng Technology Ltd. and Xin Net Technology Corp. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On December 29, 2010, HiChina Zhicheng Technology Ltd. and Xin Net Technology Corp. transmitted by email to the Center their verification responses confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On January 4, 2011, the Center transmitted an email communication to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of the proceeding. On January 5, 2011, 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 specified due date. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on January 4, 2011.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with 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 January 10, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 30, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 31, 2011.

The Center appointed Jonathan Agmon as the sole panelist in this matter on February 7, 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

The Complainant, Hermes International, is a French company whose business consists of design and sale of luxury goods, namely, leather goods, luggage and handbags, clothing and perfumes, which are sold worldwide.

In 2009, the Complainant's products were sold at revenue of EUR 1.914 billion.

The Complainant markets its products worldwide through its boutiques and employs approximately 8,000 employees worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1837, the Complainant has been using the HERMES mark in connection with its goods.

The Complainant is the owner of multiple trademark registrations for the mark HERMES around the world. For example: Chinese trademark registration No. 4932845 – HERMES, with the filing date of October 8, 2005; Chinese trademark registration No. 4933050 – HERMES, with the filing date of October 8, 2005; French trademark registration No. 1558350 – HERMES, with the filing date of July 28, 1989; United States trademark registration No. 0368785 – HERMES with the filing date of March 1, 1939; United States trademark registration No. 2213940 – HERMES (logo) , with the filing date of May 15, 1997; European Community trademark registration No. 008772428 – HERMES, with the filing date of December 1, 2009 and others.

Through extensive use around the world, the HERMES trademark has generated vast good will and has become famous in connection with luxury goods.

The Complainant also developed a formidable presence on the Internet and is the owner of several domain names, which contain the name "Hermes". For example: <hermes.com>, <hermes.pro>, <hermes.asia>, <hermes.fr> and <hermes.eu>.

The disputed domain names were registered on the following dates:

<hermes-taiwan.com> was registered on March 15, 2010;

<hermes2010.com> was registered on January 13, 2010;

<hermes2010-tw.com> was registered on January 13, 2010;

<hermes-hi.com> was registered on January 13, 2010.

Currently, all the disputed domain names resolve to an error page.

Until recently, the disputed domain names <hermes-taiwan >, <hermes2010.com> and <hermes2010-tw.com> led Internet users to websites that offered for sale, among others, what appears to be replicas of Hermes handbags, while using the Complainant's HERMES mark.

The disputed domain name <hermes-hi.com> was inactive at the time the Complaint was filed.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant argues that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to the HERMES trademark, in which the Complainant has rights, seeing that they incorporate the HERMES trademark as a whole. The Complainant further argues that the addition of the gTLD ".com" is not of distinguishing effect.

The Complainant further argues that the additional elements and terms in the disputed domain names are insufficient to avoid confusing similarity between the HERMES trademark and the disputed domain names, as follows:

1) The additional word "taiwan" is not sufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name <hermes-taiwan> from its HERMES trademark, since it indicates a geographical location, in which the Complainant operates.

2) The additional number "2010" placed after the term "hermes" is not sufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name <hermes2010.com> from its HERMES trademark since it may indicate a website dedicated to the Complainant's collection for the year 2010.

3) The additional number "2010" and the additional letters "tw" are insignificant and do not distinguish the disputed domain name <hermes2010-tw.com>, from its HERMES trademark, as they may indicate the year 2010 and the country code of Taiwan, a place of business for the Complainant.

4) The additional letters "hi" is not sufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name <hermes-hi.com> from its HERMES trademark since it may refer to the formal word "hello".

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names.

The Complainant further argues it had not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its

HERMES trademark and is not affiliated or otherwise connected to the Respondent.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent has registered numerous infringing domain names and that previous decisions under the UDRP have ordered the transfer of domain names registered by the Respondent.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent is not generally known by the disputed domain names, or has acquired trademark rights in the term “Hermes”.

The Complainant further argues that it sells its goods worldwide, including in Taiwan, Province of China and in China, where the Respondent is located, and is the owner of multiple Chinese trademarks for HERMES.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain names in bad faith.

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

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names in an attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his/her website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent's sale of counterfeiting Hermes branded products, under the Complainant's trademark, amounts to bad faith.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s existence and of the HERMES trademark and products at the time he/she registered the disputed domain names.

Finally, the Complainant underlines that it has simultaneously submitted take down notices to the concerned registrar and hosting companies.

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

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Language of the Proceeding

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 Agreements for the disputed domain names is Chinese.

The Complainant requested that the language of the proceeding should be 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 names consist of Latin letters, rather than Chinese letters;

b) The disputed domain names <hermes-taiwan >, <hermes2010.com> and <hermes2010-tw.com> used to resolve to websites that operated in Chinese and English;

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

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

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain names are 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 is the owner of multiple trademark registrations for the mark HERMES around the world. For example: Chinese trademark registration No. 4932845 – HERMES, with the filing date of October 8, 2005; Chinese trademark registration No. 4933050 – HERMES, with the filing date of October 8, 2005; French trademark registration No. 1558350 – HERMES, with the filing date of July 28, 1989; United States trademark registration No. 0368785 – HERMES with the filing date of March 1, 1939; United States trademark registration No. 2213940 – HERMES (logo) , with the filing date of May 15, 1997; European Community trademark registration No. 008772428 –HERMES, with the filing date of December 1, 2009 and others.

The disputed domain name <hermes-taiwan.com> differs from the registered HERMES trademark by the additional word "taiwan", the hyphen which separates them and by the additional gTLD ".com".

The disputed domain name <hermes2010.com> differs from the registered HERMES trademark by the additional number “2010” and by the additional gTLD ".com".

The disputed domain name <hermes2010-tw.com> differs from the registered HERMES trademark by the additional number “2010”, the additional letters "tw" and the hyphen which separates them and by the additional gTLD ".com".

The disputed domain name <hermes-hi.com> differs from the registered HERMES trademark by the additional word "hi" and by the additional gTLD ".com".

The above mentioned disputed domain names integrate the Complainant's trademark HERMES in its entirety, as a dominant element, with the additional non dominant elements "taiwan", "2010", "tw" and "hi" that do not serve sufficiently to distinguish or differentiate the disputed domain names from the Complainant’s HERMES trademark.

Previous UDRP panels have ruled that the mere addition of a non-significant element does generally not sufficiently differ 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 mere addition of a descriptive term to an identical trademark, has been repeatedly held by previous panels as not sufficient to avoid confusion between the domain name and the trademark" (Red Bull GmbH v. Chai Larbthanasub, WIPO Case No. D2003-0709).

Also, the addition of a generic top-level domain (gTLD) “.com” to the disputed domain names 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 use of a gTLD is technically required to operate the domain names and it does not serve to identify the source of the goods or services provided by the registrant of the disputed domain names.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to the trademarks in which the Complainant has rights.

C. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Once the Complainant establishes a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names, the burden of evidence shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain names (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii)).

In the present case, the Complainant alleged that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names and the Respondent failed to assert any such rights, or legitimate interests.

The Panel finds that the Complainant established such a prima facie case inter alia due to the fact that the

Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its HERMES trademark or a variation of it. The Respondent did not submit a Response and did not provide any evidence to show any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names. Thus, the Respondent did not 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 names in bad faith (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii)). Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides circumstances that may be evidence of 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 a registration for the HERMES trademark since the year 1939. 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 names (Sanofi-Aventis v. Abigail Wallace, WIPO Case No. D2009-0735).

The Complainant also provided evidence to demonstrate its trademark's vast goodwill. The Panel cites the following with approval: "The Respondent's selection of the disputed domain name, which wholly incorporates the Trade Mark, cannot be a coincidence… Given the fame of the Trade Mark, there is no other conceivable interpretation of the Respondent's registration and use of the disputed domain name other than that of bad faith" (Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft v. Zhang Yulin, WIPO Case No. D2009-0947). It is therefore unlikely that the Respondent had no knowledge of the Complainant upon registering the disputed domain names.

Indeed, “when a domain name is so obviously connected with a Complainant, it's very use by a registrant with no connection to the Complainant suggests ‘opportunistic’ bad faith” (Tata Sons Limited v. TATA Telecom Inc/Tata-telecom.com, Mr. Singh, WIPO Case No. D2009-0671).

Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy provides that it will be evidence of bad faith registration and use by a 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 resolved to.

The disputed domain names <hermes-taiwan >, <hermes2010.com> and <hermes2010-tw.com> lead Internet users to websites that engaged in the marketing of what appears to be replica Hermes goods. The Respondent’s use of the term “hermes” to promote similar or identical goods to the goods being offered by the Complainant is in the present circumstances clear evidence that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain names with knowledge of the Complainant and of the use the Complainant is making in its HERMES trademark, and indicates that the Respondent’s primary intent with respect to the disputed domain names is 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 “the registration of a domain name with the knowledge of the complainant’s trademark registration amounts to bad faith".

The disputed domain name <hermes-hi.com> was inactive at the time the Complaint was filed. All of the disputed domain names currently resolve to parking webpages displaying error announcements.

However, the fact that the Respondent does not use the disputed domain names 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.

Furthermore, the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. Previous 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 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.

Based on the evidence presented to the Panel, including the late registration of the disputed domain names, the use of the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain names and the similarity between the disputed domain names and the Complainant’s mark, the Panel draws the inference that the disputed domain names were 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.

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 names <hermes-taiwan >, <hermes2010.com>, <hermes2010-tw.com> and <hermes-hi.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonathan Agmon
Sole Panelist
Dated: February 19, 2011

 

Explore WIPO