World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

IM Production v. ChengHuang

Case No. D2012-0162

1. The Parties

The Complainant is IM Production of Paris, France, represented by Cabinet Vittoz, France.

The Respondent is ChengHuang of Beijing, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <isabelmarantboots.com> is registered with Jiangsu Bangning Science & technology Co. Ltd.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 31, 2012. On January 31, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to Jiangsu Bangning Science & technology Co. Ltd. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 1, 2012, Jiangsu Bangning Science & technology Co. Ltd. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. On February 1, 2012, the Center transmitted an email to the parties in both Chinese and English language regarding the language of the proceeding. On the same day, the Complainant confirmed its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding by the specified due date.

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 February 7, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was February 27, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 28, 2012.

The Center appointed Sebastian M.W. Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on March 5, 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

A. Complainant

The Complainant is a company incorporated in France and the owner of numerous registrations for the trade mark ISABEL MARANT (the “Trade Mark”) worldwide, the earliest dating from 1998.

B. Respondent

The Respondent seems to be an individual based in China.

C. The Disputed Domain Name

The disputed domain name was registered on December 17, 2011.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant made the following submissions in the Complaint.

The Complainant is a French fashion company named after its founder, Ms Isabel Marant. The Complainant has been manufacturing and selling fashion clothing and footwear under the Trade Mark since 1991, including in China at stores located in Beijing and Shanghai.

The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Mark as it contains the Trade Mark in its entirety together with the generic word “boots”.

The disputed domain name is resolved to a website which offers for sale counterfeit “Isabel Marant” footwear at prices significantly lower than the retail price for genuine “Isabel Marant” footwear (the “Website”).

The Respondent is not commonly known under the disputed domain name and does not have any legitimate trade mark rights in respect of the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has not been licensed or authorised by the Complainant to use the Trade Mark or to register the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not making a bona fide offering of goods or services under the disputed domain name.

The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Respondent is using the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of intentionally attracting, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Website.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1. Language of the Proceeding

The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese.

Pursuant to the Rules, paragraph 11, in the absence of an agreement between the parties, or unless specified otherwise in the registration agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement. No agreement has been entered into between the Complainant and the Respondent to the effect that the language of the proceeding should be English.

Paragraph 11(a)of the Rules allows the Panel to determine the language of the proceeding having regard to all the circumstances. In particular, it is established practice to take paragraphs 10(b) and (c) of the Rules into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceeding. In other words, it is important to ensure fairness to the parties and the maintenance of an inexpensive and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes. Language requirements should not lead to undue burdens being placed on the parties and undue delay to the proceeding (Whirlpool Corporation, Whirlpool Properties, Inc. v. Hui’erpu (HK) Electrical Appliance Co. Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2008-0293; Solvay S.A. v. Hyun-Jun Shin, WIPO Case No. D2006-0593).

The Complainant has requested that English be the language of the proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) the disputed domain name consists of Latin letters rather than Chinese characters;

(2) the content of the Website is entirely in English;

(3) the Website allows users to purchase goods in U.S. Dollars (USD), Euros (EUR), G.B. Pounds (GBP), Canadian Dollars (CAD) and Australian Dollars (AUD), indicating that the website is directed to users in countries in which English is a primary or well known language;

(4) the content of the Website indicates that the Respondent has a very good understanding of English, such that conducting the proceeding in English would not be prejudicial to the Respondent.

The Respondent did not file any submissions with respect to the language of the proceeding.

Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology Co. Ltd. has transmitted to the Center its verification response confirming that the language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese.

In exercising its discretion to use a language other than that of the registration agreement, the Panel has to exercise such discretion judicially in the spirit of fairness and justice to both parties, taking into account all relevant circumstances of the case, including matters such as the parties’ ability to understand and use the proposed language, time and costs (Groupe Auchan v. xmxzl, WIPO Case No. DCC2006-0004; Finter Bank Zurich v. Shumin Peng, WIPO Case No. D2006-0432).

The Panel notes, for the reasons specified by the Complainant in the Complaint and in its submissions regarding the language of the proceeding, it appears the Respondent is proficient in the English language (Expoconsult B.V. trading as CMP Information v. Roc Guan, WIPO Case No. D2008-1600; Compagnie Gervais Danone v. Xiaole Zhang, WIPO Case No. D2008-1047).

The Panel finds that sufficient evidence has been adduced by the Complainant to suggest the likely possibility that the Respondent is conversant and proficient in the English language (Finter Bank Zurich v. Shumin Peng, supra). The Panel is also mindful of the need to ensure the proceeding is conducted in a timely and cost effective manner.

In all the circumstances, the Panel therefore finds it is not foreseeable that the Respondent would be prejudiced, should English be adopted as the language of the proceeding.

Having considered all the matters above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) that the language of the proceeding shall be English.

6.2. Decision

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the Trade Mark acquired through use and registration which predate the date of registration of the disputed domain name by over two decades.

UDRP panels have consistently held that domain names are generally identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark for purposes of the Policy “when the domain name includes the trade mark, or a confusingly similar approximation, regardless of the other terms in the domain name” (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662).

The disputed domain name contains the Trade Mark in its entirety. The Panel finds that the addition of the non-distinctive word “boots” does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Trade Mark in any way.

The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Mark.

The Panel therefore holds that the Complaint fulfills the first condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:

(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organisation) have been commonly known by the disputed domain name even if you have acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or

(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trade mark or service mark at issue.

There is no evidence that the Complainant has authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name or to use the Trade Mark. The Complainant has prior rights in the Trade Mark which precede the Respondent’s registration of the disputed domain name by over 20 years. There is therefore a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the burden of production is thus on the Respondent to produce evidence to rebut this presumption (Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).

The Complainant contends the Website is used by the Respondent to market counterfeit “Isabel Marant” footwear. There can be no legitimate interest in the sale of counterfeits (Lilly ICOS LLC v. Dan Eccles, WIPO Case No. D2004-0750). The Panel further notes the Website features the Trade Mark as well as images of the Complainant’s products, all without the authorisation or approval of the Complainant.

The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any trade mark rights in respect of the disputed domain name or that the disputed domain name is used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name.

There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to establish rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore finds that the Complaint fulfills the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, the following conduct amounts to registration and use in bad faith on the part of the Respondent:

“By using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location.”

The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name has been used to offer for sale counterfeit products under the Trade Mark via the Website. Using domain names to facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods is strong evidence of bad faith (Prada S.A. v. Domains For Life, WIPO Case No. D2004-1019).

Even if the goods on the Website are not counterfeit, the Panel finds the Respondent’s conduct in registering the disputed domain name and setting up the Website using the Trade Mark and images of the Complainant’s goods, and offering for sale footwear under the Trade Mark, all without the authorisation, approval of licence of the Complainant, amounts to bad faith registration and use under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy, irrespective of whether the goods offered for sale on the Website are indeed counterfeits.

The Panel therefore finds the requisite element of bad faith has been satisfied, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.

7. Decision

For all 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 <isabelmarantboots.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Sebastian M.W. Hughes
Sole Panelist
Dated: March 14, 2012

 

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