World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Amanresorts Limited, Amanresorts International Pte Ltd v. Aman Group c/o Snehasish Ghosh

Case No. D2011-1974

1. The Parties

The Complainants are Amanresorts Limited of Hong Kong, China and Amanresorts International Pte Ltd of Singapore.

The Respondent is Aman Group c/o Snehasish Ghosh of Kolkata, India.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <amangroup.info> is registered with UK2 Group Ltd.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 10, 2011. On November 10, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to UK2 Group Ltd a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 10, 2011, UK2 Group Ltd 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 November 18, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 8, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 9, 2011.

The Center appointed Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin as the sole panelist in this matter on December 19, 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 following summary sets out the uncontested factual submissions made by the Complainant:

4.1 The Complainants are owned by the holding company, Silverlink Holdings Limited and are part of the Aman group of companies (numbering over 80 worldwide). Prior to 1999, the corporate headquarters of the Aman group of companies was located in Hong Kong and the majority of the AMAN group’s business was conducted through the First Complainant. In 1999, the Aman group’s corporate headquarters was relocated to Singapore and the Aman group’s business was, from then, conducted mainly through the Second Complainant. Whilst all the trademarks owned by the Aman group are registered in the name of the First Complainant, the Second Complainant owns part of the goodwill accruing to the AMAN trademark as a result of its continuing use and promotion of the trademark.

4.2 Since the Complainants’ first resort opened in Thailand in 1988, the Complainants have extensively marketed and promoted its resorts under the AMAN trademark throughout the world. The Complainants have also been marketing and promoting the AMAN resorts in India since the 1990s and opened its first Indian resort named “Aman-i-Khas” in 2003.

4.3 The Complainants have acquired numerous trademark registrations on a worldwide basis in respect of a wide range of goods and services including clothing and apparel, hotel and restaurant services, spa services and real estate services. Some of these trademark registrations include the following:

    Country

    Mark

    Classes

    Australia

    AMAN

    3, 9, 16, 35, 36, 39, 41, 42, 44

    India

    AMAN

    9, 16, 25, 35, 36, 39, 41, 42

    United States of America

    AMAN

    3, 9, 16, 35, 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44

    European Union

    AMAN

    3, 9, 16, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44

    Singapore

    AMAN

    3, 9, 16, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44

    Hong Kong, China

    AMAN

    3, 9, 16, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44

    Japan

    AMAN

    9, 16, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44

    Japan

    AMAN (in Japanese script)

    9, 16, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44

4.4 The Complainants also own the following domain names comprising the AMAN trademark:

(a) <amangroup.travel>

(b) <aman.com>, <aman.asia>, <aman.co>

(c) <amanhotels.com>, <amanhotels.net>

(d) <amanhotel.com>, <amanhotel.net>

(e) <amanhotelgroup.com>

(f) <aman.travel>, <amanresorts.travel>

(g) <amantravel.com>

(h) <amanvillas.com>

(i) <amanguide.com>, <amanguide.net>

(j) <amancruises.com>, <amancruises.net>

(k) <amaninternational.com>

(l) <amanrealestate.com>, <amanrealestate.net>

4.5 The Complainants have won numerous international awards and accolades in the hotel/tourism industry for their individual resorts and for the entire AMAN hotel chain. The Complainants chain of AMAN hotels and resorts have also been featured extensively in several international publications.

4.6 The disputed domain name resolves to a website which was only created on September 10, 2011. The website contains sparse information and the section entitled “About Us” reproduces verbatim literature from the Complainants’ website.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

5.1 The Complainants contend that they have rights to the AMAN trademark and that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainants’ AMAN trademark. The disputed domain name comprises of the Complainants’ AMAN trademark followed by the descriptive word “group”.

5.2 The Complainants further contend that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name because:

(a) the Complainants have not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use the AMAN trademark or to apply for a domain name incorporating the trademark.

(b) the Respondent is not commonly known by the name AMAN or the disputed domain name.

(c) the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name (or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name) in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

(d) the Respondent is not making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the disputed domain name without intent for commercial gain.

5.3 In relation to the requirement of bad faith registration and use of the disputed domain name, the Complainant contends as follows:

(a) the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.

(b) the Respondent had full knowledge of the Complainants at the time the disputed domain name was registered and had copied a portion of the Complainants’ website for its own website. Thus, the Respondent intentionally chose the disputed domain name with the goal of creating opportunities to commercially benefit itself arising out of the inevitable user confusion that would flow from concurrent use by the Complainants’ of the AMAN trademark and the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainants’ contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

In order to succeed in its Complaint, the Complainants are required to establish the following elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy:

(a) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainants have rights; and

(b) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(c) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

6.1. Identical or Confusingly Similar to the Trademark

The Panel is satisfied with the evidence adduced by the Complainants to establish their rights to the AMAN trademark. The trademark is not only registered by the Complainants in numerous jurisdictions but it has also been used extensively by the Complainants and the AMAN group of companies on a worldwide basis.

The disputed domain name comprises the AMAN trademark in its entirety with the additional descriptive word “group”. The additional descriptive word is often used to refer to a conglomerate or a grouping of companies that are owned by a common shareholder.

The distinctive feature of the disputed domain name remains the AMAN trademark and the additional descriptive word does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the AMAN trademark (see Lucasfilm Ltd. and Lucas Licensing Ltd. v. Cupcake City and John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2001-0700; Bayer Aktiengesellschaft v. Dangos & Partners, WIPO Case No. D2002-1115).

As such the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainants’ AMAN trademark for the purpose of the Policy.

6.2. Rights or Legitimate Interests in the Disputed Domain Name

The Complainants’ assertions had not been rebutted by the Respondent to indicate whether it has any rights or legitimate interests to the disputed domain name. The Complainants unequivocally denied ever granting the Respondent any licence or permission to use the AMAN trademark howsoever. There was also no evidence to indicate that the Respondent was known by the name AMAN or AMANGROUP.

Of particular concern was the fact that the Respondent had, in its website and under the section “About Us”, reproduced verbatim literature from the Complainants’ website, without the Complainants’ consent or authority. This not only misrepresents the true identity of the Respondent but it is also indicative of an intent by the Respondent to use the disputed domain name for commercial gain and not for a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The failure of the Respondent to reply to the Complainants’ contentions and the evidence adduced by the Complainants leads the Panel to find that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel could find not find any justification, rights or legitimate interests on the part of the Respondent to the word “Aman” comprising the disputed domain name.

In the circumstances, the Panel is, therefore, satisfied that the second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been proven by the Complainants.

6.3. Registration and Use in Bad Faith

The Panel agrees with the contention by the Complainants that the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainants’ AMAN trademark when it registered and started using the disputed domain name. The factors that were taken into account to arrive at this conclusion include the date of registration of the disputed domain name which was later than the date the Complainants started using the AMAN trademark (including use in India), the widespread use of the AMAN trademark and variations thereof by the Complainants at an international level and the fact that the Respondent had misrepresented itself as being part of the Complainants’ group of companies by reproducing the Complainants’ literature under the heading “About Us” in the Respondent’s website.

The Panel is satisfied that the Respondent had knowledge of the reputation and goodwill of the AMAN trademark when it sought to register the disputed domain name and that it intended to use and indeed used the disputed domain name in order to misrepresent a connection with the Aman group of companies, when in fact no such connection existed. As such, the Panel finds that bad faith has been demonstrated under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of 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 name <amangroup.info> be transferred to the Second Complainant, Amanresorts International Pte Ltd, as requested by the Complainants.

Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin
Sole Panelist
Dated: December 29, 2011

 

Explore WIPO