WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Quinta Worldwide, L.L.C. v. Telos Chamir
Case No. D2012-0006
1. The Parties
The Complainant is La Quinta Worldwide, L.L.C of Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, represented by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, United States of America.
The Respondent is Telos Chamir of Wanchai, Hong Kong, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <laquinta.info> is registered with Key-Systems GmbH dba domaindiscount24.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 3, 2012. On January 4, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 6, 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.
On January 16, 2012 the Center notified the Parties that the Complaint was filed in English but that according to the information received form the Registrar the language of the Registration Agreement is German. Accordingly, the Complainant submitted a request for English to be the language of the proceedings on January 17, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any reply. The Center thus informed the Parties that it would send all case-related communications in both English and German, that it would accept a Response filed in either language, and that the language of the proceeding would be decided by the Panel once appointed.
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 in both English and German, and the proceedings commenced on January 23, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 12, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 14, 2012.
The Center appointed Torsten Bettinger as the sole panelist in this matter on February 17, 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 is a major hotel and motel chain which was founded in 1968. It has used the “LaQuinta” name in connection with its services since that time, and has held United States trademark registrations for the LA QUINTA mark since as early as 1969. It operates roughly 500 hotels in 40 states throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, and employs approximately 9,000 individuals across its locations. The Complainant has also secured trademark protection in numerous international jurisdictions, and maintains a broad portfolio of domain names containing its mark including, inter alia, <laquinta.com>, <laquintahotels.com> and <laquinta.us>.
The disputed domain name was registered on December 14, 2011, and is being used to display a pay-per-click parking page with links to various hotel and travel-related services. Links shown on the website, as confirmed by the Panel on the date of writing this decision, are displayed under terms including “Holiday Inn Express”, “Double Tree Hotels”, “Kayak-Official Site”, “La Quinta Inn Coupons” and “Hotel Discount - $35 Off”.
The Complainant sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent on December 27, 2011 and, receiving no reply, thereafter proceeded to file the present Complaint.
5. Parties’ Contentions
With regard to the first requirement, under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, the Complainant states that the disputed domain name <laquinta.info> is identical to its LA QUINTA trademark, as the addition of the gTLD suffix “.info” is not taken into account in an assessment under the first element of the Policy.
Concerning the second requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant states that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as it has not been authorized to use the Complainant’s mark, is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services, is not commonly known by a name corresponding to the disputed domain name, and is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
As to the final element paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant asserts that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Due to the Complainant’s longstanding use of its mark, and the clear connection between the mark and Complainant’s services, the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name constitutes opportunistic bad faith. The Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name, to attract Internet users to its own website for commercial gain and to create the false impression of a connection between itself and the Complainant, is evidence of bad faith registration and use. Additionally, the Respondent has been involved in numerous prior UDRP proceedings, including Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. v. Telos CHAMIR, NAF Claim No. 1398288, Vanguard Trademark Holdings USA LLC v. Telos CHAMIR, NAF Claim No. 1398967, 3form, Inc. v. Telos CHAMIR, NAF Claim No. 1412719, and InfoSpace, Inc. v. Telos Chamir, WIPO Case No. D2011-1256, and as such the Complainant alleges that the Respondent is a “serial cybersquatter”.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Language of Proceedings
As a preliminary matter, the Panel notes that the Complaint has been filed in English while the disputed domain name has been registered through a Registration Agreement written in German. Pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Rules, the Language of the Proceeding is the language of the Registration Agreement, unless both parties agree otherwise or subject to the discretion of the Panel. In certain situations including, for example, where a respondent can clearly understand the language of the complaint and where the complainant would be disadvantaged by being forced to translate, it may be appropriate for the language of the proceeding to remain consistent with the language of the complaint, even where it is different from the language of the relevant Registration Agreement. See the WIPO D of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions 2.0 (“WIPO Overview 2.0”), paragraph 4.3.
In this matter, the Respondent was furnished with an opportunity to object to the Complainant’s request that English be the Language of the Proceeding, of which it was notified by the Center in both English and German. The Respondent has elected not to reply. The Complainant has indicated that translation would incur substantial costs and delay to the proceeding, that the parking page displayed at the disputed domain name is written in English text, and further notes that the geographic location where the Respondent maintains its public WhoIs listed address is in Hong Kong, where English is one of the two official languages (in addition to Cantonese). Accordingly, it appears to the Panel that the Respondent must have intended to target an English-speaking audience, that it is presumable the Respondent is familiar with the English language, and that the Respondent would not likely be prejudiced by the issuance of a decision in English. These facts, in conjunction with the arguments put forth by the Complainant, and in the interest of expediency, lead the Panel to conclude that the proper Language of the Proceeding in this case is English.
B. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The textual string of the disputed domain name in this matter is “laquinta”, which is identical to the Complainant’s registered LA QUINTA trademark, omitting only the space between the two words. The Complainant has demonstrated to the Panel’s satisfaction that it has secured numerous registrations for its mark in jurisdictions around the world, and has used said mark for a period of time substantially preceding the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name.
Additionally, it is well established that a TLD suffix, in this instance the gTLD suffix “.info”, is generally held to be irrelevant for the purposes of determining identity or confusing similarity under the Policy. See Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429.
The Panel thus finds that the disputed domain name <laquinta.info> is identical to the Complainant's LA QUINTA mark and that the Complainant has established the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
C. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, it is the consensus view among UDRP Panels that if the complainant makes a prima facie case that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests, and the respondent fails to show one of the three circumstances under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, then the respondent may be deemed to lack rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. See Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110.
In this case, the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant confirms that it has not licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its LA QUINTA trademark in any fashion and that there is no connection between the Respondent and the Complainant. There is no evidence on the present record, or in the publicly available WhoIs records, to indicate that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name. Additionally, as it would appear the Respondent has realized commercial gain from its website through the generation of pay-per-click revenue, the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name in this case neither constitutes a bona fide offering of goods or services nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use. See Seanix Technology, Inc. v. N.A., Domain Administrator, WIPO Case No. D2007-0384. The Respondent, although provided with instructions in both English and German (the language of the relevant Registration Agreement), has elected not to file any Response, and as such has not rebutted the arguments advanced by the Complainant.
Accordingly, the Panel is persuaded that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) is also satisfied.
D. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant has demonstrated that its LA QUINTA trademark has been registered for over forty years, and widely used in commerce since as early as 1968. Moreover, the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with a pay-per-click landing page containing links to hotels and travel-related services, indicating that it must have been fully aware of the Complainant and its LA QUINTA mark when it registered the disputed domain name in December of 2011.
By fully incorporating the LA QUINTA mark in the disputed domain name and using the disputed domain name in connection with a this parking website displaying links to products and services competing with those of the Complainant, the Respondent was clearly attempting to divert Internet traffic intended for the Complainant’s website to its own for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s marks. Such use constitutes bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. See F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG v. DOMIBOT, WIPO Case No. D2006-0327.
The Panel therefore concludes that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has also been met.
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 <laquinta.info> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: February 29, 2012