World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

"Dr. Martens" International Trading GmbH, "Dr. Maertens" Marketing GmbH v. mu tian, tian muxieyeyouxiangongsi

Case No. D2012-1783

1. The Parties

The Complainants are "Dr. Martens" International Trading GmbH of Gräfelfing, Germany and "Dr. Maertens" Marketing GmbH of Seeshaupt, Germany, represented by Beetz & Partner, Germany.

The Respondent is mu tian, tian muxieyeyouxiangongsi of Shanghai, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <drmartenuk.com> is registered with HiChina Zhicheng Technology Ltd. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 5, 2012. On September 5, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 6, 2012, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 12, 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 amendment to the Complaint on September 12, 2012. On September 11, 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 together with the amendment to 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 proceeding commenced on September 18, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 8, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any Response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 9, 2012.

The Center appointed Sebastian M.W. Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on October 18, 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 Complainants1 are companies incorporated in Germany and the owners of numerous national and international registrations for the trade mark DR. MARTENS (the “Trade Mark”), the earliest dating from 1983, including an international registration designating China, where the Respondent is based. The Trade Mark is a well-known trade mark in respect of footwear.

B. Respondent

The Respondent is an individual apparently with an address in China.

C. The Disputed Domain Name

The disputed domain name was registered on November 28, 2011.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant made the following submissions in the Complaint.

The Trade Mark is a famous international brand for footwear, clothing and accessories. The Complainant is particularly renowned for its shoes and boots, first sold under the Trade Mark in the late 1950s. The Complainant markets and sells footwear, clothing and accessories under the Trade Mark worldwide through retailers and online.

The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Mark. It comprises the wording “drmarten”, which is identical with the Trade Mark save that the letter “s” is missing, together with the non-distinctive descriptive designation for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, “uk”.

The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not affiliated with or authorised by the Complainant in any way and is not commonly known by the disputed domain name. The Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

The disputed domain name has been registered and used in bad faith.

The disputed domain name is being used in respect of an unauthorised website which contains sponsored links to several third party websites, including websites which offer for sale the Complainant’s footwear under the Trade Mark (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) 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 Registrar is an ICANN registrar with knowledge of the English language;

(2) The Website is a multi-language website, predominantly in English; and

(3) As the Complaint and its Annexes have been filed in English, it would make sense for practical and legal reasons to conduct the proceeding in English.

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

In exercising its discretion to use a language other than that of the registration agreement, the Panel has to exercise such discretion judiciously 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 does not find the first reason tendered by the Complainant in its language submission persuasive. In deciding a language request, it is the ability of the Respondent to understand a language other than the language of the registration agreement which is usually determinative under UDRP jurisprudence. Whether the Registrar understands English is not relevant.

Similarly, the Complainant has not made any submissions in support of its assertion that there are legal reasons for conducting the proceeding in English.

The Panel notes, however, with reference to Annex 5 (a screen shot of the Website), 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 Website is predominantly in English language, with some of the links on the Website in German.

The Panel therefore 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 unduly 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

The Complainant must prove each of the three elements in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to prevail.

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 60 years.

UDRP panels have consistently held that domain names are 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).

It is also established that the addition of generic terms to a domain name has little, if any, effect on a determination of confusing similarity between the domain name and the mark (Quixtar Investments, Inc. v. Dennis Hoffman, WIPO Case No. D2000-0253); furthermore, mere addition of a generic or descriptive term generally does not exclude the likelihood of confusion (PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2006-0189).

In the present case, the disputed domain name contains the wording “drmarten” which is almost identical with the Trade Mark, save that it is missing the final letter “s”. The Panel concludes that the addition of the acronym “uk”, the common abbreviation for the United Kingdom, does not serve to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Trade Mark, in particular as the Complainant’s footwear under the Trade Mark has been traditionally manufactured in and associated with the United Kingdom.

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 non-exhaustive circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:

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

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

(iii) the Respondent is 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 60 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 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 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. To the contrary, the disputed domain name is being used in respect of the Website which has not been authorised by the Complainant and which provides sponsored links to third party websites offering for sale, inter alia, the Complainant’s footwear under the Trade Mark.

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 any 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 fulfils 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 disputed domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location.

The evidence shows the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name and set up the Website in order to capitalise on the repute of the Trade Mark and gain revenue through attracting consumers to the Website, by providing sponsored links to third party websites offering various products and services including the Complainant’s footwear products under the Trade Mark.

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

At some stage following the filing of the Complaint, the Website has been taken down. As at the date of this Decision, the disputed domain name is resolved to a blank page containing the simple wording “Domain drmartenuk.com is parked”. In all the circumstances of this proceeding, including the failure of the Respondent to file a Response, the Panel finds this is a further indication of bad faith.

For 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 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 <drmartenuk.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Sebastian M.W. Hughes
Sole Panelist
Dated: November 1, 2012


1 For ease of reference, the Complainants shall be referred to in the singular in this Decision.

 

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