WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Red Lion Hotels Corporation v. Registrant email@example.com + 1.25255572 Registrant
Case No. D2007-0600
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Red Lion Hotels Corporation, Spokane, Washington, United States of America, represented by Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP, United States of America.
The Respondent is Registrant firstname.lastname@example.org + 1.25255572 Registrant, Hong Kong, SAR of China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <redlionhotel.com> is registered with OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 19, 2007. On April 24, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On April 25, 2007, OnlineNic, Inc. d/b/a China-Channel.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. In response to a notification by the Center that the Complaint was administratively deficient, the Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on May 10, 2007. 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”), 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 May 23, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 12, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 28, 2007.
The Center appointed Joseph Dalby as the sole panelist in this matter on July 11, 2007. 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.
In relation to the possible deficiency in the Complaint raised by the Center – which is caused by uncertainty about the Registrar’s principal office or place or business – the Panel decides to make no order or finding. The Panel notes that the Complainant has in effect through its amendment to the Complaint submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts at the principal office of the Registrar, whether that is as a matter of fact located in Xiamen, Fujian, China, or in California, United States of America.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is an undertaking incorporated as a limited company in the State of Delaware, United States of America, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its principal activity is the business of hoteliers. It testifies to having an excess of 10,000 rooms in some fifty markets catering to the corporate and leisure traveler. In conjunction with this business, the Complainant owns several registered trademarks comprising or including the words “red lion”.
The Complainant owns a number of domain names and operates websites thereupon in the course of its business. Its primary online presence is the domain <redlion.com>, which attracts considerable custom for hotel services, figures for which were given in evidence and are acknowledged.
The Respondent’s true identity is not asserted and is merely referred to by an email alias, with a post office address in Hong Kong, SAR of China.
At the time of this decision, the cached version on the Google search engine indicates the domain name is “parked, pending renewal” but the domain name in question nevertheless resolves to a website purporting to offer hotel services, although not in the same style and livery of the Complainant’s primary website, and posting a number of what appear to be sponsored links. It is clear however that hotel services are being offered on and through the domain name in question.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks in which the Complainant has rights. In evidence, the Complainant refers to the fact that its trading name “red lion” is registered as a Trademark (Number 2282432) for hotel services. In addition it owns a US Trademark Number 1915645 for RED LION HOTEL.
Evidence of registration of its trademarks and associated domain names has been produced by the Complainant. The Complainant avers that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark, and to its websites, since it substantially incorporates its trademark.
Further, the Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It states in evidence that the Respondent has never used the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods and services nor in a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name has been registered, and is being used, in bad faith. It avers that the Respondent engages in a pattern of conduct intended to prevent owners of famous and protected trademarks from reflecting there marks in corresponding domain names. In this regard it cites some sixteen previous UDRP decisions against the Respondent in similar circumstances.
Further, the Complainant avers that it can be inferred that registration of the domain name in question, coupled with the use it is being put to – namely to attract Internet traffic to its competing hotel sites – demonstrates that the Respondent knew about the Complainant’s rights at the time of registration.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The domain name is governed by the Policy, by virtue of the contract between the Registrar and Registrant/Respondent.
The Panel finds that the inability to specifically identify the Respondent should not adversely affect the Complaint. The email alias appears to have become a trade name of sorts for the person or organization responsible for registering the current domain in question, and others that have become the subject of UDRP administrative proceedings.
Thus the Panel finds the Respondent has been given an adequate opportunity to deal with the allegations against him and it is thus noted that the Respondent has not offered any contentions in rebuttal of the claims and contentions made by the Complainant.
In this matter the Panel finds as follows:
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Although the trademark certificates supplied are not certified as identical to the original, in the absence of any challenge from the Respondent, they appear to the Panel to be authentic copies. The trademark RED LION HOTEL is a typescript mark. The Complainant has proven that it has rights to an established and valid trademark.
The Panel finds that the domain name in question is identical to a trademark lawfully registered to the Complainant.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is no material before the Panel to establish that the Respondent has been a representative or licensee of the Complainant, or that it is otherwise authorized to use the Complainant’s mark.
Taking the Complaint in its entirety, the Complainant has satisfactorily demonstrated a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name. In default of the Respondent adducing any evidence to rebut this contention, the Complainant has adequately proved this element. The Panel finds that the Respondent does not have any rights of legitimate interests in the disputed domain.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel notes that the disputed domain name is identical to the Complainant’s mark, and that it is being used inter alia to post a number of what appear to be links to Competitors of Complainant.
Given that the Respondent has failed to adduce any evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name the Panel finds this is suggestive of bad faith. Furthermore, the pattern of conduct in registering domain names that are identical or similar to the registered trademarks of third parties, evidenced by the increasing number of UDRP decisions, constitutes a strong inference of bad faith.
In the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that the Respondent registered and used the domain name in bad faith.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that:
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name, <redlionhotel.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: July 18, 2007