WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
L’Oréal v. Domain Admin/ PrivacyProtect.org/Linyuanchao/Huyaojun
Case No. D2013-0428
1. The Parties
The Complainant is L’Oréal SA of Paris, France, represented by Studio Barbero, Italy.
The Respondent is Domain Admin/ PrivacyProtect.org of Nobby Beach, Queensland, Australia/ Linyuanchao/Huyaojun of yanan, Shanxi, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> are registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 1, 2013. On March 1, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On March 5, 2013, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on March 12, 2013 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amendment to the Complaint on March 15, 2013.
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” 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 March 21, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 10, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 11, 2013.
The Center appointed Marilena Comănescu as the sole panelist in this matter on April 16, 2013. 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 Panel agrees with the Complainant that apparently, the disputed domain names are registered by the same entity and therefore according to paragraph 10(e) of the Rules considers co-Respondents in this procedure the proxy service Domain Admin/ PrivacyProtect.org together with the underlying registrants Linyuanchao and Huyaojun disclosed by the Registrar particularly due to the following:
- the contact details of the underlying registrants of the disputed domain names are apparently fictitious. This assumption is also confirmed by the failure of the courier to deliver the written correspondence to the addresses indicated in the WhoIs;
- all the entities named as Respondents were properly notified with respect to the current UDRP procedure and no response was provided or argument to the contrary was submitted;
- the disputed domain names were registered on the same date, December 23, 2012, and contain Complainant’s trademark CLARISONIC together with a geographical indicator;
- at the time the Complaint was drafted the disputed domain names resolved to similar websites, the difference between them being the language; and
- a common email address, l[…]@gmail.com, is provided for both disputed domain names in the WhoIs and on the corresponding websites (at the moment of drafting the Complaint).
The language of the proceeding is English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant L’Oréal SA is a French based industrial group, founded in 1909. The Complainant engages in cosmetics and beauty, and is nowadays one of the international leaders in its field.
The Complainant asserts that it acquired the company Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. and its CLARISONIC trademark via a merger agreement in December 2011. The registered holder of some CLARISONIC trademarks is Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. Annex 4 to the Complaint contains the Power of Attorney issued by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. to L’Oréal SA for trademark matters and thus certifies the Complainant’s capacity in this procedure.
The Clarisonic products, created in 2004 by a team of scientists and engineers in Seattle, are patented with more than 40 registrations and are distributed worldwide through Complainant’s channels consisting of department stores, perfumeries, travel retail outlets, as well as free-standing stores and e-commerce websites.
Further, the Complainant asserts that, through its global advertising campaigns via television and other media channels, the social campaigns in which the Complainant was involved, also confirmed by the awards received and the volume of sales, the CLARISONIC trademark has become famous and well-known worldwide in the field of sonic skin care products.
The Complainant holds trademark registrations worldwide for CLARISONIC such as the following:
- the US mark CLARISONIC no. 3732137 filed on 31.03.2008 with first use in commerce since 2004 registered for goods in class 03;
- the US mark CLARISONIC no. 3880043 filed on 06.05.2010 with first use in commerce since 2005 registered for services in class 35;
- the Chinese mark CLARISONIC no. 8275826 filed on 07.05.2010 for goods in class 05; and
- the Community Trademark CLARISONIC no. 5732375 filed on 05.03.2007 for goods and services in classes 03, 05, 21, 35 and 44.
The Complainant operates numerous websites including “www.clarisonic.com”, ”www.clarisonic.cn” and ”www.clarisonic.it”.
Both disputed domain names were created on December 23, 2012.
At the time the Complaint was filed, the disputed domain names were used in connection to websites suggesting they are Complainant’s official websites by the fact they featured the CLARSONIC mark and did not provide any disclaimer evidencing their registrant’s relationship with the Complainant.
The Complainant sent Cease and Desist letters to the Respondent in February 2013, informing the Respondent of its intellectual property rights in the trademarks CLARISONIC and demanding that the disputed domain names be transferred to the Complainant. The Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s letters.
At the time of filing the Amended Complaint and drafting the Panel’s decision, the disputed domain names were directed to default pages.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that each of the three elements specified in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are satisfied in the present case, as follows:
(i) The disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> are confusingly similar to its trademark CLARISONIC:
Both disputed domain names incorporate the Complainant’s trademark CLARISONIC in its entirety. The addition of the non distinctive terms “france” and “Italia” which are geographical indicators increase the likelihood of confusion with Complainants’ trademark.
(ii) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names:
The Respondent is not a licensee, an authorized agent of the Complainant or in any other way authorized to use the Complainant’s trademark CLARISONIC.
The Respondent does not fall under the circumstances listed by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy.
Rather, the Respondent is using the disputed domain names in connection to commercial websites publishing the Complainant’s trademarks and offering for sale unauthorized products under CLARISONIC trademark.
Regarding the offer for sale of unauthorized discounted products bearing the trademark CLARISONIC, Complainant highlights that, irrespective of their nature, no fair use can be invoked by the Respondent as it failed to accurately and prominently disclose the registrant’s relationship with the trademark holder thus generating a clear likelihood of confusion for Internet users.
“Clarisonic” is an invented word with no meaning in any foreign language.
Respondent’s lack of reaction to Complainant’s Cease and Desist letters further emphasizes that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
(iii) The disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> were registered and are being used in bad faith:
The Respondent could not have possibly ignored the existence of the trademark CLARISONIC when registering the disputed domain names particularly due to the following: the Complainant’s trademark use in commerce since 2004; the amount of advertising and sales of Complainant’s products; the intensive use of the trademark worldwide; and the well-known character of the CLARISONIC trademark.
Further, because on the websites accessed via the disputed domain names the Respondent features prominently Complainant’s trademark and offers for sale CLARISONIC branded products, clearly demonstrates the actual knowledge of the CLARISONIC trademark by the Respondent.
The Respondent had registered the disputed domain names with clear intentions to refer to the Complainant’s mark in order to capitalize on the reputation of the Complainant’s marks by diverting Internet users seeking information about the Complainant to its own websites and earn revenues by the offer for sale of products promoted thereon.
With reference to the use of the disputed domain names in bad faith, both disputed domain names are used in connection with websites generating the impression to be the Complainant’s official websites and offering for sale unauthorized products branded CLARISONIC. Such a conduct demonstrates that the only purpose of the Respondent was to use the disputed domain names to intentionally attempt to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to such websites, creating a likelihood of confusion with the endorsement of the Complainant’s website and to taking profit from the offer for sale of the products promoted thereon.
The registration of the disputed domain names using a WhoIs protection service and Respondent’s lack of reaction to the Cease and Desist letters addressed to its attention by the Complainant are further circumstances supporting Respondent’s bad faith behavior.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to “decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.”
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove to the Panel that the following three circumstances are cumulatively met in order to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain names:
(i) the disputed domain names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names; and
(iii) the disputed domain names have been registered and are being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
The Respondent’s failure to respond does not automatically result in a decision in the favor of the Complainant, the latter must establish each of the three elements provided by paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, above listed.
Consequently, the Panel shall further analyze the eventual concurrence of these circumstances in the present case.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
There are two requirements that a complainant must establish under this element, namely: that it has rights in a trademark, and, if so, that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its mark.
The Complainant has rights in the CLARISONIC trademark, holding registrations worldwide, including in China since 2010 where the underlying registrants of the disputed domain names appear to be located.
The dominant part of both disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> fully incorporate as prefix the Complainant’s widely advertised and fanciful trademark CLARISONIC.
In addition to this, the disputed domain names contain geographical descriptors “france” and “italia”. Numerous UDRP panels have considered that the addition of generic or descriptive words, such as a geographical indicator, to an otherwise distinctive or well-known trademark does not serve to distinguish the domain name from a complainant’s trademark. See Société Air France v. Vladimir Federov, WIPO Case No. D2003-0639 for the domain name <wwwairfrance.com>; Fendi Adele S.r.l. v. PrivacyProtect.org / Liao Yani, WIPO Case No. D2012-2346 for the domain name <fendiitalia.com>; Suncor Energy Inc. v. Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. / andre bechamp, WIPO Case No. D2012-2123 for the domain names, inter alia, <suncorcalgary.com> and <suncorenergycanada.com>.
Further, it is well established in decisions under the UDRP that the presence or absence of characters (e.g., hyphens, dots) in a domain name and indicators for top level domains (e.g., “.com”, “.info”, “.net”, “.org”) are typically irrelevant to the consideration of confusing similarity between a trademark and a domain name.
For all the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark CLARISONIC.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the first element of the Policy is established, and the Complainant has proven that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to its trademark, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has provided a prima facie case under this element of the Policy showing that it has had no relationship with the Respondent and has not granted the Respondent any right to register and use its CLARISONIC trademark. Therefore, in line with prior UDRP decisions, the burden of production on this element shifts to the Respondent to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
Although properly notified by the Center, the Respondent failed to submit any response in the present procedure. Also, the Respondent failed to respond to Complainant’s Cease and Desist letters sent prior to commencing the present procedure. Considering other relevant circumstances of a matter, the silence of the Respondent may support a finding that it has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names. See also Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., v. Lauren Raymond, WIPO Case No. D2000-0007; The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited v. Unasi Inc., WIPO Case No. D2005-1218; Ronson Plc v. Unimetal Sanayi ve Tic.A.S, WIPO Case No. D2000-0011.
Further, there is no evidence before the Panel to suggest that the Respondent has made a bona fide use of the disputed domain names, or has been known by these disputed domain names, or is making any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain names. In fact, at the time of drafting the Complaint the disputed domain names resolve to websites similar to the Complainant’s official websites, featuring the CLARISONIC trademark and offering for sale discounted unauthorized products bearing the trademark CLARISONIC without the consent of the Complainant.
In this case, assuming that the products or at least some of the products offered for sale under the disputed domain names were genuine CLARISONIC branded products, the key question under this element is whether the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain names for such resale amounts to a bona fide offering of goods under paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy. The current state of panel decisions in relation to this issue is helpfully summarized in the Paragraph 2.3 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”) as follows:
“Normally, a reseller or distributor can be making a bona fide offering of goods and services and thus have a legitimate interest in the domain name if its use meets certain requirements. These requirements normally include the actual offering of goods and services at issue, the use of the site to sell only the trademarked goods, and the site's accurately and prominently disclosing the registrant's relationship with the trademark holder.”
This summary is based on panel decisions such as Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903 and Experian Information Solutions, Inc. v. Credit Research, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0095. At least one condition that it outlines has clearly not been satisfied by the Respondent in this case: at the time of drafting the Complaint, on the websites corresponding to the disputed domain names there was no accurate information regarding the Respondent and its relationship with the Complainant thus generating a likelihood of confusion for the Internet users accessing Respondent’s websites.
For all these reasons, the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy is established, and the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain names, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires proof of bad faith in both the registration and use of the disputed domain names.
When assessing the bad faith in the registration requirement, the following should be considered (1) whether the Respondent knew of the Complainant and its trademark, and (2) whether the Respondent targeted the Complainant to benefit from confusion generated by the similarity between the disputed domain names and the trademark (see Avon Products, Inc. v. Mary Ultes, WIPO Case No. D2009-0471).
The Complainant’s trademark has been used since 2004 and was registered worldwide, including in China since 2010, where the underlying Respondents are apparently located. Due to its extensive advertising and use the Panel concludes that the trademark CLARISONIC acquired significant degree of recognition in the markets it penetrated in the field of sonic skin care products.
The CLARISONIC trademark has apparently no meaning and it is a word invented by the Complainant, therefore it is distinctive for the claimed goods.
The disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> were registered on December 23, 2012 and incorporate, along with Complainant’s distinctive trademark, two geographical indicators, names of countries. Such indicators added to CLARISONIC mark are likely to suggest to the Internet users that the corresponding websites are Complainant’s official websites in the respective countries.
Furthermore, in this Panel’s view, registering two domain names containing the same fanciful third party’s trademark in the same day cannot be a mere coincidence.
From the above, the Panel concludes that indeed the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark and business and incorporated the CLARISONIC trademark in the disputed domain names in order to create confusion and attract Internet users on its web portals.
At the time the Complaint was drafted, the Respondent was using the Complainant’s trademark for commercial websites featuring Complainant’s trademark, reproducing Complainant’s official images and offering for sale discounted products under the CLARISONIC trademark.
The Respondent is using without permission the Complainant’s distinctive trademark in order to get traffic on its web portals and to obtain commercial gain from the false impression created for the Internet users with regard to a potential connection with the Complainant. This impression is increased by the incorporation of the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain names, the layout and the content on the websites corresponding to the disputed domain names.
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy provides that the use of a domain name to intentionally attempt “to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the respondent’s] website or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [the respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the respondent’s] website or location” is evidence of registration and use in bad faith.
Given that both disputed domain names incorporate the Complainant’s trademark and the websites operated under the disputed domain names display Complainant’s trademarks and copy the layout of Complainant’s official websites indeed in this Panel’s view, the Respondent intended to attract Internet users accessing the websites corresponding to the disputed domain names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> who may be confused and believe that these are websites held, controlled by, or somehow affiliated or related to the Complainant, for its commercial gain.
Further, the Respondent chose not to participate in these proceedings and has not contested any of the allegations made by the Complainant, and did not provide any evidence whatsoever of any legitimate noncommercial, or fair use of the disputed domain names, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the Complainant’s trademark. Such passive attitude of the Respondent can be considered further indication of bad faith. See also Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba v. Shan Computers, WIPO Case No. D2000-0325; Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. (This Domain is For Sale) Joshuathan Investments, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0787.
In the same time, the Respondent has failed to provide accurate contact details to the relevant registrar as the post address and telephone number provided in the contact details were inaccurate. Along with other circumstances in a case, the supplying of an incorrect or incomplete address by the respondent to the registrar can be considered sign of bad faith. See also Ticketmaster Corporation v. Dmitri Prem, WIPO Case No. D2000-1550; Francesco Totti v. Jello Master, WIPO Case No. D2002-0134; BellSouth Intellectual Property Corporation v. Real Yellow Pages, WIPO Case No. D2003-0413.
For all these reasons, the Panel finds that the third element of the Policy is established on the record in these proceedings, and accordingly that the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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 names <clarisonicfrance.com> and <clarisonicitalia.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 29, 2013