World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Levitas S.p.A. v. ddsidake, sidake

Case No. D2011-2315

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Levitas S.p.A. of Montegranaro, Italy, represented by King & Wood PRC Lawyers, China.

The Respondent is ddsidake, sidake of Fujian, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> 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 30, 2011. On January 3, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 3, 2012, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the disputed domain name.

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 January 6, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 26, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 30, 2012.

The Center appointed Jonathan Agmon as the sole panelist in this matter on February 8, 2012. 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, Levitas S.p.A., is the owner of the BIKKEMBERGS brand, a fashion brand that is famous for its high quality clothing and shoe-ware, which combine the fashion and sport worlds into high fashion.

The Bikkembergs brand was founded in 1986 by the Belgian designer Dirk Bikkembergs, and is named after him. Since its establishment, the Bikkembergs brand has been marketed and promoted worldwide by the Complainant and various predecessor companies.

The Complainant and its predecessors have filed and registered the marks DIRK BIKKEMBERGS and BIKKEMBERGS in multiple territories. The Complainant is currently the owner of various trademark registrations for the marks DIRK BIKKEMBERGS and BIKKEMBERGS around the world. For example: International Registration No. 986556 DIRK BIKKEMBERGS logo, registered on December 30, 1987, designating Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Norway and Russia; Community Trademark Registration No. 629386 for the DIRK BIKKEMBERGS logo, registered on October 11, 1999; Community Trademark Registration No. 3474046 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS, registered on April 27, 2005; International Registration No. 875256 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS, registered on January 6, 2006, designating Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Belarus, Switzerland, China, Egypt, Croatia, Korea, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Montenegro, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Singapore, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America and Vietnam; Community Trademark Registration No. 5509823 for BIKKEMBERGS and logo, registered on November 9, 2007; Community Trademark Registration No. 5947965 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS SPORT COUTURE AND logo, registered on March 7, 2008; International Registration No. 986556 for the BIKKEMBERGS logo, registered on October 28, 2008, designating Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and Syria; and others.

The Complainant and its predecessor companies expended significant resources throughout the years in promotion and advertisement throughout the world. As a result of extensive use and publicity, the trademark BIKKEMBERGS is solely associated with the Complainant. Furthermore, the BIKKEMBERGS trademark has become well-recognized by the general public, and has generated significant goodwill.

The Complainant and its predecessor companies have also developed formidable presence on the Internet and are the owners of several domain names that contain the mark BIKKEMBERGS, including <bikkembergs.com> and others. The Complainant is using these domain names in connection with its activities.

The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> on November 16, 2011.

At the time of the filing of the Complaint the disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> resolved to a website that marketed shoes bearing the mark BIKKEMBERGS, which are believed by the Complainant to be counterfeit goods.

The disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> currently resolves to a parking webpage, which displays the following error announcement: "The website you were trying to reach is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon".

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant argues that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the BIKKEMBERGS trademark, in which the Complainant has rights, seeing that it incorporates the term BIKKEMBERGS as a whole.

The Complainant further argues that the BIKKEMBERGS trademark is broadly and extensively used by its rights owners in connection with fashion garments, and is known by the public as a unique fashion brand originating from the Complainant.

The Complainant further argues that the addition of the dictionary word “shop” to the Complainant's well-known BIKKEMBERGS trademark does not mitigate confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's BIKKEMBERGS trademark. The Complainant also maintains that the dictionary word "shop" is "transparent" to consumers, who are likely to consider the term "bikkembergs" as the effective part of the mark, and are thus likely to assume that the disputed domain name is associated with the Complainant.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent does not make legitimate use of the disputed domain name.

The Complainant further argues it had not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use its BIKKEMBERGS trademark.

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent is not generally known by the disputed domain name.

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

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

The Complainant further argues that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant's existence and of its BIKKEMBERGS trademark at the time it registered the disputed domain name.

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

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Language of the Proceedings

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 Agreement for the disputed domain name is English.

Accordingly, and in the absence of a contrary agreement between the parties, the language of proceedings is English.

B. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain name is 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 several trademark registrations for the mark BIKKEMBERGS and variations thereof around the world. For example: International Registration No. 986556 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS and logo, registered on December 30, 1987, designating Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Norway and Russia; Community Trademark Registration No. 629386 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS and logo, registered on October 11, 1999; Community Trademark Registration No. 3474046 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS, registered on April 27, 2005; International Registration No. 875256 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS, registered on January 6, 2006, designating Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Belarus, Switzerland, China, Egypt, Croatia, Korea, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Montenegro, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Singapore, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America and Vietnam; Community Trademark Registration No. 5509823 for BIKKEMBERGS and logo, registered on November 9, 2007; Community Trademark Registration No. 005947965 for DIRK BIKKEMBERGS Sport COUTURE and logo, registered on March 7, 2008; International Registration No. 986556 for BIKKEMBERGS and logo, registered on October 28, 2008, designating Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and Syria; and others.

The disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> differs from the registered BIKKEMBERGS trademark by the additional prefix "shop" and the additional gTLD “.com”.

The disputed domain name integrates the Complainant's BIKKEMBERGS trademark in its entirety as the dominant element.

The Panel finds that the additional prefix "shop" does not serve sufficiently to distinguish or differentiate the disputed domain name from the Complainant's BIKKEMBERGS trademark, as it is a descriptive dictionary word that refers to the purchasing of goods, among others such goods that are regularly sold by the Complainant, and is therefore insignificant for purposes of assessing confusing similarity.

Previous UDRP panels have found that the mere addition of a non-significant element may not sufficiently differentiate 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 this case is analogous to that where, “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).

Indeed, “[t]he 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).

It was also decided that the addition of the gTLD “.com” to the disputed domain name 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 the use of a gTLD is technically required to operate the disputed domain name.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark 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 name, the burden shifts to the Respondent to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in respect to the disputed domain name in accordance with Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).. (See e.g. Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).

In the present case, as discussed above, the Complainant alleged that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.

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 BIKKEMBERGS trademark or a variation thereof and that the goods offered for sale on the website associated with the disputed domain name were allegedly counterfeit. The Respondent did not provide any evidence to show any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Thus, the Panel finds that the Respondent did not rebut the Complainant's prima facie case.

Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name.

D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Complainant must show that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii)). Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides some circumstances that may prove bad faith under paragraph 4(a)(iii).

The Complainant submitted evidence, which shows that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name well after the BIKKEMBERGS trademark, owned by the Complainant, was registered. According to the evidence filed by the Complainant and to a trademark search performed by the Panel, the BIKKEMBERGS trademark, owned by the Complainant, has been registered and in affect at least since the year 1987. 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 name (Sanofi-Aventis v. Abigail Wallace, WIPO Case No. D2009-0735).

Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy provides that it will be considered bad faith registration and use by the 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 resolves 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 disputed domain name resolves.

The disputed domain name currently resolves to a parking webpage, which displays the following error announcement: "The website you were trying to reach is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon". Nevertheless, the disputed domain name was used in the past to resolve to a website that marketed shoes bearing the mark BIKKEMBERGS, which are believed by the Complainant to be counterfeit goods.

The Respondent’s previous use of the BIKKEMBERGS mark to promote the sale of similar or identical goods, to the goods being offered by the Complainant is clear evidence that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name with the likely knowledge of the Complainant and the Complainant's BIKKEMBERGS trademark and reputation, and subsequently intended to trade off the value of these. The Panel finds that the Respondent’s actions therefore constitute bad faith. See Herbalife International, Inc. v. Surinder S. Farmaha, WIPO Case No. D2005-0765, stating that “the registration of a domain name with the knowledge of the complainant’s trademark registration amounts to bad faith”. Indeed, the use the Respondent made of the disputed domain name for quasi-identical goods to the ones the Complainant markets (as well as what are quite possibly counterfeit goods) constitutes bad faith on behalf of the Respondent (See Schur International A/S v. Jorge Massa, WIPO Case No. D2009-0450).

The fact that the Respondent ceased the use of the disputed domain name does not preclude the Panel from finding bad faith, having taken into consideration all the circumstances of this case. (See Mobimate Ltd. v. “World Mate” and Sachiwo Inagaki, WIPO Case No. D2008-1867). The Panel cites the following with approval: “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).

Furthermore, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainants' trademark. Previous UDRP panels have found 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 stated that attracting Internet traffic by using a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark may be further evidence of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP.

In light of the Complainant’s distinctive registered trademark and the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name, the Panel finds that the registration of the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark, creates a likelihood that Internet users would be confused and identify the Respondent as either associated or affiliated with the Complainant.

Based on the evidence presented to the Panel, including the late registration of the disputed domain name, the similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant's trademark and the Respondent's use of the disputed domain name to sell goods that are regularly sold by the Complainant, the Panel draws the inference that the disputed domain name was 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 the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <shopbikkembergs.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Jonathan Agmon
Sole Panelist
Dated: February 20, 2012

 

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