World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Accor v. Above.com Domain Privacy / Host Master, Transure Enterprise Ltd

Case No. D2012-0160

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Accor of Paris, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

The Respondent is Above.com Domain Privacy of Beaumaris, Victoria, Australia, and Host Master, Transure Enterprise Ltd of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom”).

2. The Domain Names and Registrar

The Disputed Domain Names <accorhbotel.com>, <accorhnotels.com>, and <accorhrotels.com> are registered with Above.com, Inc.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 30, 2012. On January 31, 2012 and February 3, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to Above.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On January 5, 2012, Above.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on February 6, 2012 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on February 10, 2012.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Names Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Names Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Names 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 February 13, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was March 4, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 5, 2012.

The Center appointed Eva Fiammenghi as the sole panelist in this matter on March 12, 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 Accor is a major player economic and mid-scale hotels, as well as in upscale and luxury hospitality services.

Accor operates more than 4,200 hotels in 90 countries worldwide and over 500,000 rooms, from economy to upscale.

Accor is the owner of all the trademarks used in connection with the notable Accor hotels that offer hotel stays tailored to the specific needs of each business and leisure customer and are recognized and appreciated around the world for their service quality.

The Complainant sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent on August 23, 2011, requesting the cancellation of the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant sent several reminders in 2011 but the Respondent did not reply to any letters and emails.

The Complainant noticed that the Disputed Domain Names <accorhbotel.com>, <accorhnotels.com> and <accorhrotels.com> had been registered by the Respondent. The Disputed Domain Names were registered on June 23, 2011. The Disputed Domain Names are linked to a website providing various commercial links in the field of hotels.

The Complainant is the owner, among others, of the following trademarks (covering also Australia):

International trademark ACCOR and device, Registration No. 953507, registered on August 16, 2007, in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 41 and 43;

European Union Community trademark ACCOR and device, Registration No. 006159248, registered on May 25, 2005, in classes 9, 16, 35, 36, 39 and 43.

The Complainant is also the owner, among others, of the following Domain Names:

<accor.com>; and

<accorhotels.com>.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant argues that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to its ACCOR trademarks and its domain names.

The Disputed Domain Names reproduce exactly the Complainant’s trademarks and Domain Names.

The Disputed Domain Names correspond to a clear case of typosquatting, in particular because there is a slight variation in spelling of the word “hotel”.

The use of a mistyped version of the word “hotels” should be interpreted as an attempt to divert business away from the Complainant. The Respondent has no interest in the Disputed Domain Names as can be seen from the lack of response to the Complaint. The Complainant has never authorized the Respondent to use its trade names.

The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant and there is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has registered the Disputed Domain Names to advance legitimate interests.

The Complainant has never licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademarks or to register any domain name that incorporates its trademark.

The Complainant requests that the Disputed Domain Names be cancelled.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed in this proceeding and obtain the transfer of the Disputed Domain Names, the Complainant must prove that each of the three following elements is satisfied:

1. The Disputed Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (see below, section 6.A);

2. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names (see below, section 6.B.); and

3. The Disputed Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith (see below, section 6.C).

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy clearly states that the burden of proving these elements lies with the Complainant.

Pursuant to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules, the Panel shall decide the Complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable. Moreover, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a Party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences there from, as it considers appropriate.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has shown that it owns trademark rights in the ACCOR trademark.

The Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names <accorhbotel.com>, <accorhnotels.com> and <accorhrotels.com> are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s ACCOR trademark.

First of all, given the fact that the Complainant is the owner of the domain name <accorhotels.com>, the Disputed Domain Names are highly misleading for Internet users who will be attracted to different websites which have no connection with Complainant.

This kind of “typosquatting” uses similar confusion resulting from typing errors commonly made by Internet users (see Allstate Insurance Company v. Private Whois Service, WIPO Case No. D2011-0208; Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and Dow Jones LP v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2000-0578).

The combination of the name “Accor” and the misspelling of the word “hotels”, which is the major business area of the Complainant, demonstrate the lack of good faith. This is emphasized by the fact that the websites to which the Disputed Domain Names resolve redirect traffic to other hotel and holiday providers.

In view of the above, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademarks and domain names, in which the Complainant has demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Panel, that it has rights and commercial use of the same for several years.

The Panel finds that the first element of the Policy has, therefore, been met.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

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

The Panel finds that with regard to whether the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names (paragraph 4(a)(ii) and 4(c) of the Policy), the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent does not have such rights or legitimate interests.

The Complainant declares that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant and has not been authorized by the Complainant to register or use its trademarks, or to seek registration of any domain names incorporating the ACCOR trademark.

The Respondent did not come forward with any evidence showing that it has any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names. Moreover, the websites associated with the Disputed Domain Names display some commercial links to services competing with those of the Complainant’s. Such use of the Domain Names does not constitute a bona fide use and does not give the Respondent any rights or legitimate interests pursuant to the Policy.

The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to establish rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names.

The second element of the Policy has, therefore, been met.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Respondent, by using the Disputed Domain Names, is intentionally misleading the consumers and confusing them. The Panel finds that the Respondent is trying to attract Internet users to its websites by the appearance that the websites are associated or recommended by the Complainant.

The Disputed Domain Names were used to divert Internet users to other websites offering services that compete with those of the Complainant.

On the basis of the above, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy the Panel finds that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names to attract Internet users, for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademarks and domain names.

Accordingly, pursuant to paragraph 4(b) of the Policy, this Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith by the Respondent.

On this basis the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the third and last element of paragraph 4(a) 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 Names <accorhbotel.com> , <accorhnotels.com> and <accorhrotels.com> be cancelled.

Eva Fiammenghi
Sole Panelist
Dated: March 23, 2012

 

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