WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Air France v. Jason O’Keefe
Case No. D2013-0669
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Société Air France of Roissy, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Jason O’Keefe of Saratoga, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <sairfrance.com>, <wairfrance.com> and <zairfrance.com> (the “Domain Names”) are registered with FastDomain, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 11, 2013. On the same date, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names. On April 17, 2013, the Registrar 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 May 28, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 17, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 18, 2013.
The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on June 26, 2016. 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 is an airline, organized as a public limited company registered in France. It is the owner of registrations for the trademark AIR FRANCE in numerous jurisdictions.
The Respondent appears to be a private individual resident in California, United States. He registered the Domain Names on September 15, 2012.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that it is a French passenger airline and air freight company which was founded in 1933. It operates a fleet of 587 airplanes and serves 230 towns in 113 countries with a total of 1,500 flights per day. In 2011, it transported 75.8 million passengers and earned revenues of 24.2 billion euros.
The Complainant provides evidence of its trademark registrations, including the International trademark No. 828334 AIR FRANCE registered on October 20, 2003. The trademark is registered for 29 classes of the International Classification of goods and services and has application in over 50 countries throughout the world.
The Complainant states that its trademark AIR FRANCE has been recognized by prior UDRP panels as having the status of a “well-known” trademark: see, e.g., Société Air France v. Alvaro Collazo, WIPO Case No. D2004-0446.
The Complainant also states that it has since 2004 operated a website and portal, including airline reservation services at “www.airfrance.com”
The Complainant submits that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights (paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy). The Complainant points to the fact that each of the Domain Names differs from its AIR FRANCE trademark only by the addition of the letters “s”, “w” and “z” respectively before the term “airfrance”.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names (paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy). The Complainant has no connection with the Respondent and did not authorize him to use its trademark AIR FRANCE. The Respondent is not using the Domain Names in connection with any bona fide offering of goods or services, but rather is using them to link to the website of Brussels Airlines, which is a direct competitor of the Complainant. The Complainant exhibits a print out of a web page dated April 2, 2013 in support of this allegation.
The Complainant submits that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith (paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy). The Complainant relies on the fact that each of the Domain Names differs from the Complainant’s trademark AIR FRANCE only by the addition of the letters “s”, “w” and “z” respectively. The Complainant observes that each of these letters is immediately adjacent to the letter “a” on a QWERTY keyboard. The Complainant submits that the only explanation for this can be “typosquatting”, i.e. that the Respondent is seeking to profit from Internet users who mistype the Complainant’s own domain name.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent is guilty of similar conduct in respect of other well-known airlines and businesses and produces evidence in support of this submission.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent is using the Domain Names to divert Internet users to the website of a competing airline and has therefore have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to his web site or other on-line location by creating a likelihood of confusion as contemplated by paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Complainant seeks a transfer of the Domain Names.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed in its Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are:
(i) that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names; and
(iii) that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
The Complainant must establish all three of these elements even in circumstances where the Respondent has failed to reply to the Complaint.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established that it is the owner of trademark registrations for the mark AIR FRANCE for numerous classes of goods and services in numerous jurisdictions. Ignoring the space between the terms “air” and “france” and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”, each of the Domain Names is identical to the Complainant’s trademark but for the addition of the prefixes “s”, “w” and “z” respectively.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel accepts the Complainant’s contentions with regard to rights or legitimate interests, which are uncontradicted by the Respondent. The Respondent has failed to show any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names and there is no other evidence of any such rights or legitimate interests available to the Panel. On the contrary, both the nature of the Domain Names and their use in connection with a website operated by a competitor of the Complainant suggest a lack of any bona fide or legitimate interest in the names on the part of the Respondent.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel agrees with the Complainant’s contention that the Domain Names can only have been chosen in order to divert Internet users who mistype the Complainant’s own domain name, <airfrance.com>. There is no other inference to be drawn from the nature of each of the Domain Names and the Panel is unable to conceive of any use to which any of the Domain Names could legitimately be put by the Respondent.
While this is enough of itself to establish bad faith, the Panel also finds that the Respondent has used the Domain Names to misleadingly divert Internet users who intend to access the Complainant’s website to the website of one of the Complainant’s competitors. The Panel infers that the Respondent obtains financial reward from this activity, which in any event takes unfair advantage of the Complainant’s goodwill in its trademark and represents use of the Domain Names in bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names, <sairfrance.com>, <wairfrance.com> and <zairfrance.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Steven A. Maier
Date: June 28, 2013