WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Prada S.A. v. Ms. Jenny Saputo
Case No. D2003-0895
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Prada S.A., a Luxembourg company, represented by Studio Legale Jacobacci e Associati, Italy.
The Respondent is Ms. Jenny Saputo, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <boutiqueprada.net> is registered with Wild West Domains, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 10, 2003. On November 11, 2003, the Center transmitted by email to Wild West Domains, Inc., a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On November 11 and 20, 2003, Wild West Domains, Inc., transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy"), 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 November 20, 2003. In accordance with the Rules, Paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was December 10, 2003. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 16, 2003.
The Center appointed Louis-Bernard Buchman as the Sole Panelist in this matter on January 19, 2004. 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. The Center notified on January 27, 2004, the Complainant that the Panel requested from the Complainant an Amendment to the Complaint, which the Complainant duly submitted on January 28, 2004. The Center notified the parties on January 30, 2004, that it had been instructed by the Panel to grant the Respondent until February 6, 2004, to respond to the Amendment to the Complaint. No submission was received from the Respondent within the time granted.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant which is internationally well-known in the field of Italian fashion, is the owner of several hundreds trademarks including the word PRADA, registered throughout the world, including in Canada where the Respondent is located. They cover mostly, but not exclusively, clothing, shoes, tissues, fabrics, fashion accessories, belts, watches, jewellery, and fragrances.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that PRADA is a famous trademark, having been registered and being still registered in many countries around the world, including Canada, that the domain name at issue is confusingly similar with the trademark in which it has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name and that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
In the Complaint as amended, Complainant agrees, in accordance with Paragraph 3(b)(xiii) of the Rules, to submit, only with respect to any challenge that may be made by Respondent to a decision by the Administrative Panel to transfer or cancel the domain name that is the subject of the Complaint, to the jurisdiction of the courts where the Respondent is located.
Identity or confusing similarity
In respect of the first one of these contentions, the Complainant states essentially the following: "The domain name boutiqueprada.net is confusingly similar with the trademark PRADA. In fact, it combines PRADA with ‘boutique’, a generic word in the fashion field."
Rights or legitimate interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name at issue, as there is no evidence, before the dispute, of the Respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparation to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; that the Respondent has never been commonly known in the normal course of business by the trademark, trade name or domain name PRADA or BOUTIQUE PRADA; that the use which the Respondent makes of the domain name is commercial; and that the possibility that the Respondent is making a legitimate non-commercial fair use of the domain name is difficult to conceive, insofar as it is used to redirect Internet users to a pornographic website.
Registration and use in bad faith
The Complainant contends that the Respondent knows or should have known from a cursory Altavista or Google search that PRADA is a famous registered trademark; that the Respondent has registered several other domain names similar to famous Italian registered trademarks; that the site to which the Internet users are directed is commercial, i.e. to access further pornographic images the Internet user is invited to pay; that actions that create, or tend to create, customer confusion and dilution of the trademark violate trademark law and are per se evidence of bad faith, and that the Respondent is engaging in pornosquatting, i.e. a situation where a cybersquatter tries to take advantage of a well-known trademark and/or trade name to attract Internet users to a pornographic website.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15 of the Rules prescribes that the Panel shall decide a Complaint on the basis of the statements made and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Applied to this case, Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following:
(a) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or a service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(b) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, and;
(c) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identity or Confusingly Similarity
Firstly, the Panel notes from the evidence submitted in this case, that PRADA has been duly registered as a trademark (see Annex 1 to the Complaint), including in Canada. Not all of the registrations are in the name of the Complainant, as many are in the name of Prefel S.A., Luxembourg, but the Panel notes from Prada S.A. v. Mark O'Flynn, WIPO Case No. D2001-0368, that the Complainant was formerly named Prefel S.A., and in view of the fact that the Complainant’s contention of being the rightful owner of the registered trademarks remained undisputed, there is sufficient evidence that the Complainant is indeed the owner of numerous PRADA trademarks.
The domain name at issue <boutiqueprada.net> is a combination of the distinctive word ‘prada’ and the descriptive word ‘boutique’, which was ruled to be a general term commonly used in order to indicate the shop through which fashion products are commercialized (Etro S.p.A. v. Messrs. Mark O’Flynn, Luciano Carbonetti PGC s.r.l., WIPO Case No. D2000-1289, concerning <etroboutique.com>). Moreover, it has been ruled in GA Modefine S.A. v. Mark O'Flynn, WIPO Case No. D2000-1424 (concerning <armaniboutique.com>), that "… the Complainant’s trademark … constitutes the core element of the domain name …" and "… although the Respondent’s domain name is composed of the word ‘armani’ and the (descriptive) word ‘boutique’, the first of these terms is incontestably the principal part of the domain name." As was ruled in Prada S.A. v. Roderick G. Arnold, WIPO Case No. D2002-0928 (concerning <pradacasa.com>), the addition of the prefix ‘boutique’ does not diminish the attractiveness of the word ‘prada’. Consequently, the Panel finds that the domain name at issue <boutiqueprada.net> is confusingly similar with the trademark PRADA.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
From the evidence available, it can be noted that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademarks, to distribute its products, or to apply for any domain name incorporating its trademarks. There is no evidence that the Respondent, whose name is not Prada, is commonly known by the domain name, and by not submitting a response, the Respondent has failed to invoke any circumstance which would indicate the existence of any right or legitimate interest she would have in the domain name at issue, whereas the Complainant has established a prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name, based inter alia on the circumstance that the Respondent is using the domain name to direct Internet users to a pornographic website. In the view of this Panel, such a use implies, absent any contrary evidence or any exculpating circumstance, the lack by the Respondent of any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name, as required pursuant to Paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registration and Use in Bad Faith
The evidence submitted in this case suggests that bad faith is present in the meaning of Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. As was ruled in GA Modefine S.A. v. Mark O'Flynn, WIPO Case No. D2000-1424 (concerning <armaniboutique.com>): "When registering the domain name, the Respondent knowingly and purposefully chose a name which is confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks. … In view of the above-described fame of the Complainant’s trademarks, the choice of the domain name by Respondent could not result from a mere coincidence. Respondent could not have been unaware of Complainant’s trademarks, and by knowingly choosing a domain name consisting of Complainant’s trademark ARMANI followed by the word ‘boutique’, Respondent intentionally created a situation which is at odds with the legal rights and obligations of the parties." Indeed, the Panel finds that the rationale underpinning the above WIPO decision applies also in this case, and because the Respondent and her business have no connection to the world of fashion and to the business of the Complainant in particular, and has failed to demonstrate any bona fide use of the domain name, conduct of the Respondent in registering the domain name <boutiqueprada.net> amounts to acting in opportunistic bad faith, as was held in Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondée en 1772 v. The Polygenix Group Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-0163, and Parfums Christian Dior v. Javier Garcia Quintas and Christiandior.net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0226. In the first case, the Panel noted that <veuvecliquot.org> is so obviously connected with such a well-known product [VEUVE CLIQUOT champagne] that its very use by someone with no connection with the product suggests opportunistic bad faith. In the second case, it was also suggested that "the Domain Names are so obviously connected with such a well-known name and products that its very use by someone with no connection with the products suggests opportunistic bad faith [quoting Veuve Cliquot]. In the absence of contrary evidence, the Panel finds that the Respondent knew of or should have known of the Complainant’s trademark and services at the time Respondents registered the Domain Name given the widespread use and fame of the Complainant’s CHRISTIAN DIOR mark."
Furthermore, regarding pornography, it was decided in Motorola, Inc. v. NewGate Internet, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0079, that "while many adult sex sites are perfectly legal and constitute bona fide offerings of goods or services, the use of somebody else’s trademark as a domain name (or even as a meta-tag) clearly does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services when the website owner has no registered or common law rights to the mark, since the only reason to use the trademark as a domain name or meta-tag is to attract customers who were not looking for an adult sex site, but were instead looking for the products or services associated with the trademark. Such use of a trademark can create customer confusion or dilution of the mark, which is precisely what trademark laws are meant to prevent. And actions that create, or tend to create, violations of the law can hardly be considered to be bona fide." The finding that redirection to pornographic sites from a domain name incorporating a well-known trademark is, per se, evidence of bad faith has been confirmed by several other WIPO Panel decisions, such as: Ty, Inc. v. O.Z. Names, WIPO Case No. D2000-0370, finding that absent contrary evidence, linking the domain names in question to graphic, adult-oriented websites is evidence of bad faith; Oxygen Media, LLC v. Primary Source, WIPO Case No. D2000-0362, finding bad faith even where Respondent merely threatened to develop the domain name in question into a pornography site; and Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Seweryn Nowak, WIPO Case No. D2003-0022, noting that "the diversion of the domain names to a pornographic site is itself certainly consistent with the finding that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith." Furthermore, the Panel finds that the Respondent could hardly ignore that a domain name, <pradaboutique.com> (which is almost identical to the domain name at issue) was transferred to the Complainant pursuant to WIPO Case No. D2001-0368, and that this circumstance reinforces the bad faith use by the Respondent of the domain name at issue.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with Paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, and consistent with a series of previous WIPO decisions under the Policy involving the PRADA trademark, the Panel orders that the domain name <boutiqueprada.net> be transferred to Complainant Prada S.A.
Dated: February 10, 2004