WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin (Michelin) v. Rosa Chen

Case No. D2011-1326

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin (Michelin) of Clermont-Ferrand, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

The Respondent is Rosa Chen of Ningbo, Zhejiang, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <michelinchina.com> is registered with Network Solutions, LLC.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 3, 2011. On August 4, 2011, the Center transmitted by email to Network Solutions, LLC a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same day, Network Solutions, LLC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.

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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on August 8, 2011. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 28, 2011. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 29, 2011.

The Center appointed Alvaro Loureiro Oliveira as the sole panelist in this matter on September 5, 2011. 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, Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin (Michelin), is a company based in France that owns several registrations for trademark MICHELIN worldwide. This mark is used in connection with the tires and automobile industries, as well as with the famous hotel/restaurant guides and maps.

The Complainant has obtained registrations for its trademark MICHELIN worldwide, notably in China, where the Respondent is located. Evidence of these prior rights was duly presented by the Complainant

The Complainant also stated to be present in Asia, mainly in China, through several subsidiaries. The domain name <michelin.com.cn> belongs to the Complainant. Evidence of these facts were also produced.

The disputed domain name <michelinchina.com> is currently in use and leads to page displaying links to several other pages, all related to the automobile field, as well as restaurants and tourism. The links in question appear in different languages, such as English, French and Portuguese. The page bears also links that refer to the Complainant’s mark, MICHELIN, as well as to a variation thereof, MICHELIN, as well as to other marks in the tire field, such as FIRESTONE, GOODYEAR, BRIDGESTONE.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

As stated above, the Complainant is a company legally established in France and is the owner of several registrations for trademark MICHELIN, with which it identifies tires and automobile industries, as well as with the famous hotel/restaurant guides and maps.

Before starting this Complaint, the Complainant contacted the Respondent through a cease and desist letter, in an attempt to obtain the voluntary transfer of the disputed domain name to its name. An extensive correspondence was exchanged on this regard, but no settlement was reached. As one can see from the documents annexed to the Complaint, while the Complainant was looking for the voluntary cancellation of the disputed domain name, the Respondent’s intention was basically to transfer it to the Complainant in exchange of a determined amount of money.

The absence of any possible amicable settlement led to the filing of this Complaint, according to UDRP proceeding.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The disputed domain name <michelinchina.com> is indeed confusingly similar to the MICHELIN trademark. In fact, it basically incorporates the mark together with the name of the country where the Respondent is located, China, leading to the impression that it leads to the official web site for the Complainant in that country.

The Complainant, on its turn, has presented consistent evidence of use and ownership of the mark MICHELIN in several countries throughout the world, including in China.

Given the above, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar with the registered marks of the Complainant.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Given the clear evidence that the MICHELIN trademark is widely known, the fact that the goods are sold under this mark throughout the world as well as the undeniable link between that mark and the Complainant, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established prima facie that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Hence, the Respondent cannot claim to have been using the trademark not knowing the Complainant’s rights to them. Besides, a visit to the disputed domain name <michelinchina.com> leads to a web page that bears links to other web pages relating to tires and other automobile goods, as well as restaurants and tourism information – clearly the domains in which the mark MICHELIN is widely known. This, among other facts, proves that the Respondent’s interests cannot have been legitimate.

The Panel, thus, finds for the Complainant under the second element of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The facts outlined in section A and B above can be used to evidence the Respondent’s bad faith in obtaining the disputed domain name. As mentioned, the Panel finds the renown of the MICHELIN trademark is undeniable; it cannot be conceived that the Respondent does not know of its existence.

In addition, the Respondent clearly tried to obtain financial benefit with the disputed domain name, as this was the only tone of the response to the proposition to settle sent by the Complainant. Further, in the absence of any payment, the Respondent did not respond to this Complaint. This behavior has been considered as a clear evidence of bad faith in registering and using a domain name in several previous UDRP disputes circumstances. In fact, it supports a finding that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.

All the points above lead to the conclusion by this Panel that the Respondent was fully aware of the Complainant and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has also proved the third element of the Policy

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 <michelinchina.com> be cancelled.

Alvaro Loureiro Oliveira
Sole Panelist
Dated: September 19, 2011