WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Helmut Lang S.a.r.l. v. Domain Research and Sales
Case No. D2002-0133
1. The Parties
Complainant is Helmut Lang s.a.r.l., Luxembourg, represented by Mr. Luca Barbero, c/o Studio Barbero, Via Tripoli 104, 10137, Torino, Italy, hereinafter the "Complainant".
Respondent is New York Link Inc., 101 West 23rd street, NY, NY 10011 10010, United States of America, hereinafter the "Respondent".
2. Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name in dispute is <helmut-lang.com>.
The registrar for the disputed domain name is Names4Ever.com, 5266 Eastgate Mall, San Diego, CA, 92121, United States of America.
3. Procedural History
The essential procedural history of the administrative proceeding is as follows:
(a) Complainant initiated the proceeding by the filing of a complaint, received by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("the Center") on February 9, 2002 on e-mail, and on February 13, 2002, in hardcopy. On February 13, 2002, the Center sent an Acknowledgement of Receipt of the Complaint to the Complainant.
(b) On February 14, 2002, the Center transmitted a Request for Registrar Verification to the registrar, with the Registrarís Verification received by the Center on February 22, 2002 confirming that the domain name at issue was registered through Names4Ever.com.
(c) On February 27, 2002, the Center transmitted the Notification of the Complaint and Commencement of the Administrative Proceeding in WIPO Case No. D2002-0133 to the Respondent, after having satisfied itself that the Complainant had complied with all formal requirements pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, adopted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on August 26, 1999 ("the Policy"), the Rules for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 ("the Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Supplemental Rules").
(d) No Response was submitted by the Respondent within the deadline for submission of Response. Accordingly, the Center issued a Notification of Respondent Default on March 21, 2002.
(e) In view of the Complainantís designation of a single panelist, the Center invited Mr. Peter Nitter to serve as a panelist on March 27, 2002. Having received his Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence of April 2, 2002, the Center formally appointed him as Sole Panelist. On April 5, 2002, THE CENTER transmitted the case file to the Administrative Panel. The parties were notified of the Appointment of Administrative Panel on April 9, 2002.
(f) The Sole Panelist finds that the Administrative Panel was properly constituted and appointed in accordance with the Rules and the Supplemental Rules. The Administrative Panel shall issue its decision based on the complaint, the Policy, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules. The proceedings have been conducted in English.
4. Factual Background
After the Complainantís assertions, supported by the documents enclosed as annexes to the complaint, and undisputed by Respondent because of its default, the Panel finds the following:
Complainant is the owner of trademark registrations for HELMUT LANG in a large number of countries, and distributes luxury goods under this trademark around the world.
The Respondent has registered the domain name <helmut-lang.com>. Respondent has previously registered the domain names <jeanpaulgaultier.com> and <thierry-mugler.com> without any rights or legitimate interest in the corresponding trade marks, and these domain names have been transferred to their legitimate owners according to WIPO Cases No. D2000-0822 and No. D2001-0713 respectively.
There is no relation between Respondent and Complainant, and Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, nor has Respondent otherwise obtained an authorization to use Complainantís trademarks.
5. Partiesí Contentions
The Complainant asserts that:
The domain name at issue is identical to Complainantís trademark.
The Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain name at issue. Respondent has nothing to do with Complainant or Complainantís business, and there are no indications that Respondent would have bona fide interests in relation to the trademark HELMUT LANG.
The domain name was and is registered and used in bad faith.
HELMUT LANG is a well-known mark, and Respondent is evidently aware that the domain name <helmut-lang.com> corresponds to this trademark.
It is probable that the Respondent deliberately registered the domain name at issue on account of the identity to the well-known trademark HELMUT LANG, primarily to attract Internet users to Respondents commercial web site <www.helmut-lang.com>.
The Complainant requests the Administrative Panel issue a decision that the contested domain name must be transferred to the Complainant.
5. 2 Respondent
The Respondent has not submitted a response, and is thus in default. Respondent has neither made any submissions after the Notification of Respondent Default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Administrative Panel as to the principles the Administrative Panel is to use in determining the dispute: "A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable."
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists three tests which a complainant must satisfy in order to succeed.
The Complainant must satisfy that:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of such domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith.
6.1 Identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or a service mark
The Domain Name at issue is <helmut-lang.com>. As the addition of hyphens and indicator of top level domain is without significance to the assessment of identity between a trade mark and a domain name, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
6.2 Rights or legitimate interest in the domain name
The Panel has considered the allegation by the Compliant as to the lack of rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in respect of the domain name at issue, including the Complainantís contention about the lack of any legitimate intellectual property right of the Respondent to the contested domain name.
By not submitting a response, Respondent has failed to invoke any circumstance which could demonstrate, pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Thus, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the contested domain name.
6.3 Registration and use in bad faith
Complainantís allegations and evidence with regard to the Respondentís registration and use of the domain name in bad faith has been considered by the Panel. By not submitting a response, Respondent has failed to invoke any circumstances which could demonstrate that it did not register and use the Domain Name in bad faith.
Complainantís trade mark is well known. It has therefore in all probability been known to Respondent when registering the contested domain name.
Respondentís registration of the domain name at issue, and continuous use of the same, thus appears to be an intentional attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its web site <www.helmut-lang.com> , by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainantís mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of this web site.
The submitted evidence of Respondentís previous record of registering domain names identical to well-known designer trade marks, without any legitimate interest in these, is a further indication of Respondentís bad faith in registering and using the domain name at issue.
These are circumstances which constitute evidence of registration and use of a domain name in bad faith pursuant to Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has registered and is using the domain name at issue in bad faith.
In light of the foregoing, the Panel has found that the domain name <helmut-lang.com> is identical to a trade mark held by the Complainant, and that the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interest in said domain name. The Panel has further found that the domain name has been registered in bad faith, and that it has been and is being used in bad faith.
Therefore, pursuant to Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel decides to request that the domain name <helmut-lang.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Peter G. Nitter
Dated: April 26, 2002