WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) v. Nextone Media Ltd
Case No. DCO2010-0023
1. The Parties
Complainant is Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) of Paris, France, represented by Cabinet Santarelli, France.
Respondent is Nextone Media Ltd of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <voyages-sncf.co> is registered with GoDaddy.com, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 29, 2010. On September 29, 2010, the Center transmitted by email to GoDaddy.com, Inc. a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On September 29, 2010, GoDaddy.com, Inc. transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. The Center sent an email communication to Complainant on October 1, 2010 regarding the registrant information. Complainant filed an Amended Complaint on October 1, 2010.
The Center verified that the Complaint, together with the Amended 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on October 4, 2010. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 24, 2010. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on October 25, 2010.
The Center appointed Jeffrey M. Samuels as the sole panelist in this matter on November 1, 2010. 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
Complainant is Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), the French State railway company which operates all of France’s passenger railway system. Complainant owns a number of French trademark registrations for the terms SNCF and VOYAGES-SNCF.COM, as used in connection with transport and travel agency services, as well as on related goods. See Complaint, Annex 3. Complainant also owns a number of domain names incorporating its marks, including <voyages-sncf.com>, <voyages-sncf.org> and <voyages-sncf.net>.
Respondent is a company of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It registered the disputed domain name <voyages-sncf.co> in July, 2010.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its VOYAGES-SNCF.COM and SNCF marks. It notes that the disputed domain name reproduces the marks in their entirety and that the addition of the country code top-level domain “.co”1 does not prevent a likelihood of confusion since it is necessary for the registration of the disputed domain name itself.
Complainant further contends that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Complainant indicates that it has not licensed or otherwise permitted any use of its SNCF and VOYAGES-SNCF.COM marks or the registration of any domain name incorporating such marks, nor has it acquiesced to the use or registration of such marks by Respondent.
Complainant notes that use of the disputed domain name resolves to third-party websites that provide goods and services similar to those offered by Complainant at its website. See Complaint, Annex 5.
In support of its contention that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith, Complainant indicates that: (1) the disputed domain name resolves to a parking website with sponsored links to travel, transport, and related webpages, including Complainant’s own site; (2) such sites are in French; (3) Respondent obtains a financial benefit every time an Internet user inadvertently accesses Respondent’s site and activates any of the sponsored links; (4) Respondent is aware of Complainant’s marks; (5) Respondent’s site indicates that the domain name is for sale; (6) Respondent failed to respond to a “cease and desist” letter sent to it by Complainant’s counsel on August 5, 2010 (see Complaint, Annex 6); and (7) Respondent has been “condemned” in an earlier UDRP proceeding.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel determines that the disputed domain name <voyages-sncf.co> is identical or confusingly similar to the marks SNCF and VOYAGES-SNCF.COM. The disputed domain name incorporates Complainant’s SNCF mark in its entirety and part of the trademark VOYAGES-SNCF.COM. The addition of the country code top level domain “.co” in the disputed domain name does not avoid a determination that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. Country code top-level domains are descriptive in nature.
The evidence also establishes that Complainant, through its ownership of registrations for the marks SNCF and VOYAGES-SNCF.COM, has rights in such marks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel rules that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. There is no evidence of any bona fide use of the disputed domain name, that Respondent is commonly known by the domain name, that Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, or that Complainant authorized Respondent to use Complainant’s marks as part of Respondent’s domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The evidence establishes that the disputed domain name resolves to a website with sponsored links to third-party sites that offer services that compete with those offered by Complainant and that Respondent earns income every time an Internet user clicks on a sponsored link. In view thereof, and given the Panel’s earlier determination that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s marks, the Panel concludes that Respondent, through its use of the disputed domain name, is intentionally attempting to attract for commercial gain Internet users to its site or the sites of others by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source of its site or of the services offered on its site, within the meaning of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. Further support for the Panel’s determination may be found in Respondent’s failure to respond to the “cease and desist” letter.
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 <voyages-sncf.co> be transferred to Complainant.
Jeffrey M. Samuels
Dated: November 15, 2010
1 “.co” is the country code for Columbia.