World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Accor , SoLuxury HMC v. zhangjin

Case No. D2012-2192

1. The Parties

The Complainants are Accor and SoLuxury HMC, of Paris, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

The Respondent is zhangjin of Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sofitel-sunrich-guangzhou.com> is registered with Guangdong JinWanBang Technology Investment Co., Ltd. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 6, 2012. On November 6, 2012, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 12, 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 November 12, 2012, the Center transmitted an email to the parties in both Chinese and English languages regarding the language of the proceeding. On November 12, 2012, 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 in both Chinese and English the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 19, 2012. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 9, 2012. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 10, 2012.

The Center appointed Douglas Clark as the sole panelist in this matter on December 13, 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 the owner and of several hotels under the trademark SOFITEL, including the Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich Hotel in Guangzhou, China.

The Complainant is the registrant of the trademark SOFITEL in many countries of the world including in China.

The disputed domain name <sofitel-sunrich-guangzhou.com> was registered on March 1, 2012. The disputed domain name resolves to a website that claims in Chinese and partially in English to be the Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich Hotel.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the registered trademark SOFITEL. The addition of the words “Sunrich” and “Guangzhou” do not detract from any similarity and because the Complainant does have a hotel Sofitel Sunrich Guangzhou, in fact, exacerbates it.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It has not been authorized or licenses by the Complainant to use the SOFITEL trademark.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent has clearly registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant claims that the Respondent must have known of the Complainant when registering the disputed domain name and is using the disputed domain name to attract Internet visitors to its website and perhaps obtain their personal details when they make bookings.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

This is a very simple case of domain name cybersquatting that the UDRP was designed to stop. The Panel accordingly will only make brief findings.

Language of Proceedings

In this case, the Registrar has confirmed that the language of the registration agreement is Chinese. The Complainant has requested that English be the language of proceedings on various grounds to which the Respondent did not reply. The Panel finds under the specific circumstances of this case and on the basis that the Respondent claims on the website at the disputed domain name to be an international hotel related to the Complainant and uses English on its website that the Respondent is likely to be familiar with the English language. Accordingly, the Panel determines the language of proceedings to be English.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name <sofitel-sunrich-guangzhou.com> is composed of the Complainant’s registered trademark SOFITEL, the geographic indicator “Guangzhou” and the word “sunrich” which, as noted above, is the name of one of the Complainant’s hotels in Guangzhou, China.

According to previous UDRP decisions, the “addition of merely generic, descriptive, or geographical wording to a trademark in a domain name would normally be insufficient in itself to avoid a finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the UDRP” (see paragraph 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”)).

The use of the word “sunrich” does not detract from this similarity given that it is common in the industry for additional names to be used to identify hotels.

Therefore the Panel finds the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.

The first element of the UDRP is made out.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent has not responded to the Complaint to assert any rights or legitimate interests. None of the circumstances in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, which sets out how a respondent can prove its rights or legitimate interests, are present in this case.

Since the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests and has not rebutted, the Panel finds that the second element of the UDRP is made out.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel also finds that the disputed domain name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith. The website under the disputed domain name is being used to attract consumers to make bookings through the website.

This case falls within paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy which provides that a registrant has registered and is using a domain name in bad faith where:

(iv) “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site 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 web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”

The third element of the UDRP is made out.

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 <sofitel-sunrich-guangzhou.com> be cancelled.

Douglas Clark
Sole Panelist
Date: January 5, 2013

 

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