World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Société Air France v. Zhenyong Wang

Case No. D2011-1022

1. The Parties

Complainant is Société Air France of Roissy CDG, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.

Respondent is Zhenyong Wang of Beijing, China.

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The disputed domain names <airfrancebaggageallowance.info> and <airfranceflightstatus.info> are registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc (“the Domain Names”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 16, 2011. On June 16, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On June 18, 2011, GoDaddy.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.

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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 22, 2011. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on June 27, 2011 inviting Complainant to submit an amended Complaint correcting a typographical error. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 27, 2011.

In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 12, 2011. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 14, 2011.

The Center appointed Clive L. Elliott as the sole panelist in this matter on July 21, 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 Domain Names were both registered with Go Daddy.com, Inc on January 17, 2011 and expire on January 17, 2012.

5. Parties’ Contentions

Complainant

Complainant is the French flag carrier, headquartered in Roissy CDG (near Paris). It contends that it is one of the world's largest airlines. Complainant also states that it is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance, serving 32 destinations in France and operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to 183 destinations in 98 countries.

Complainant asserts that it was formed on October 7, 1933, from a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Generale Aeropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aerienne (CIDNA), and Societe Generale de Transport Aerien (SGTA). Complainant states that it served as France's primary national flag carrier for seven decades prior to its 2003 merger with KLM.

Complainant asserts that between April 2001 and March 2002 it carried 43.3 million passengers and had a total revenue of EUR 12.53 billion. Complainant further asserts that in November 2004, it ranked as the largest European airline with 25.5% total market share, and was the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenue.

Complainant advises that as well as being the registered owner of several generic and country code top-level domain names consisting of or incorporating the trademark AIR FRANCE, it also operates an international web portal at “www.airfrance.com”

Complainant contends that a search of WhoIs details for the Domain Names shows Respondent, Mr. Wang Zhenyong, as registrant and as the administrative and technical contact. Complainant advises that it also conducted a search of the Domain Names using the Domain Tool search engine, which showed that Respondent had 524 domain names registered to him where it is listed as registrant and the administrative and technical contact. Complainant also contends that Respondent’s email address is also associated with 441 domain names, most of which are registered under the generic extension ".info".

Complainant advises that it is the registered owner of a large number of trademarks consisting of or including the wording AIR FRANCE in many countries including China where Respondent is located. Complainant submits that its trademark AIR FRANCE is well and widely known throughout the world and easily recognizable.

Complainant claims that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to its trademark AIR FRANCE as the trademark AIR FRANCE is entirely reproduced in each of the Domain Names, and further claims that the TLD ".info" is a technical and necessary part of domain name with no distinguishing features nor legal significance.

Complainant contends that the Domain Names combine its trademark with the descriptive English terms “flight”, “status”, “baggage” and “allowance” and submits that the addition of these generic terms to its mark is insufficient to distinguish the Domain Names from the mark and thereby reinforcing the impression of association and confusion with Complainant's AIR FRANCE trademark. Complainant advises that the terms "flight", "status", "baggage", "allowance" are used in its official website “www.airfrance.com”, in specific web pages displaying information regarding the status of Air France's flights and its baggage allowance policy. These terms describe Complainant's trademark services, which it submits also reinforces the confusion and the association between the Domain Names and Complainant's well-known trademark.

Complainant submits that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names as it is not related in any way to Complainant's business, it is not one of its agents, does not carry out any activity for or has any business with it, and nor does it receive any authorization, or licence to make use of Complainant's trademark.

Complainant suggests that Respondent has registered the Domain Names in order to take advantage of Complainant's well-known trademark and to confuse and divert Internet users to commercial search engines offering competitors' services through a "pay-per-click" domain parking web page. This, Complainant submits, is not a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor a non-commercial or fair use.

Complainant points out that tourism creates important traffic on the Internet and contends that Respondent has registered the Domain Names for the purpose of generating commercial gain by intentionally taking advantage of Internet traffic and diverting Internet users to other commercial websites offering competitors' services through hyperlinks.

Complainant submits that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Names in bad faith and suggests that because of its strong reputation and the widely known character of its mark AIR FRANCE throughout the world, Respondent could not have ignored Air France's international reputation and must have been aware of it at the time it applied for the Domain Names.

Complainant asserts that Respondent appears to have registered at least 441 domain names, many of which are also confusingly similar to other well-known trademarks. By way of example Complainant notes that Respondent has registered the domain name <bornbaby.info>, which imitates the international trademark BABY BORN. The two words "baby" and "born" are inverted. Another domain name registered to Respondent is <adwordstool.info>, which is very similar to the Chinese nominative trademark ADWORDS. Complainant suggests that these trademark infringements reflect a customary behavior of the Respondent concerning bad faith registration of domain names in general.

Complainant claims that this use of the Domain Names should be considered as unfair competition and evidence that Respondent has engaged in bad faith registration and use of the Domain Names.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainant provides compelling evidence of extensive use and thus rights in the AIR FRANCE trademark ("Complainant's Trademark”).

Complainant contends that the Domain Names combine Complainant's Trademark with a range of descriptive English terms, namely “flight”, “status”, “baggage” and “allowance” and submits that the addition of these generic terms to its mark does not distinguish the Domain Names from Complainant’s Trademark. There is merit in this submission, just as there is merit in the submission that the Domain Names reinforce the impression of association and confusion with Complainant's Trademark. That is, because these generic terms are closely associated with Complainant’s services and do nothing to suggest that the Domain Names are not in some way associated with the well-known airline services provided by Complainant for many years.

Even though the Domain Names are not identical they are clearly confusingly similar to Complainant’s Trademark, incorporating as they do Complainant's Trademark in its entirety. By adopting domain names that wholly incorporate Complainant’s Trademark and which convey the same overall impression as Complainant’s Trademark, Respondent has used a term confusingly similar to Complainant's Trademark.

Accordingly, this element is made out by Complainant.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Respondent appears to be using the Domain Names for overtly commercial purposes. Complainant contends, without challenge, that Respondent is using the Domain Names in relation to pay-per-click operations. More specifically, Complainant contends that Respondent has used the Domain Names on commercial search engines offering competitors' services through a "pay-per-click" domain parking web page.

Complainant submits that this indicates that Respondent has registered the Domain Names in order to take advantage of Complainant's well-known trademark and to confuse and divert Internet users to commercial search engines of other parties and that this does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor a non-commercial or fair use.

Rights or legitimate interests cannot be created where the user of the domain name at issue would not choose such a name, unless it was seeking to create a mistaken impression of identification or association with the particular complainant. The Panel has no difficulty concluding that a mistaken impression or identification with Complainant is likely to arise in this case and that on this basis Complainant again makes out this element.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Given the nature and extent of Complainant's prior use and registration of Complainant’s Trademark, it is found that Respondent registered the Domain Names in bad faith, with knowledge (actual or imputed) that using in its entirety Complainant’s Trademark as part of the Domain Names was likely to cause an Internet user visiting any one of the alleged click-through sites to erroneously think that the Domain Names are somehow sponsored by or affiliated with Complainant.

The situation referred to above is commonplace today and Respondent’s failure to answer any of these allegations or provide any form of explanation supports the conclusion that the Domain Names were indeed registered and are being used in bad faith.

Accordingly, Complainant has made out its case and is entitled to relief pursuant to the Policy.

7. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names, namely <airfrancebaggageallowance.info> and <airfranceflightstatus.info> be transferred to Complainant.

Clive L. Elliott
Sole Panelist
Dated: August 5, 2011

 

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