WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Thierry Mugler v. ORM LTD / Contact Privacy Inc.
Case No. D2014-0615
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Thierry Mugler of Paris, France, represented by Tmark Conseils, France.
The Respondent is ORM LTD of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British Territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland / Contact Privacy Inc. of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <circlemugler.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on April 14, 2014. On April 15, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 15, 2014, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on April 17, 2014, 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 amended Complaint on April 22, 2014.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 April 24, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was May 14, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on May 16, 2014.
The Center appointed Peter Burgstaller as the sole panelist in this matter on May 27, 2014. 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 a French company and famous especially for its perfumes and clothing. MUGLER is registered as trademark in various countries and regions from 2000 onwards (e.g. United States of America, Canada, European Union, (Annex 6 and 7 to the Complaint)) and well-known throughout the world. The Complainant uses the domain name <mugler.com> since 2000.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on December 9, 2012.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant is famous for its perfumes and fashion clothing and uses the name Mugler intensively. MUGLER is registered in favor of the Complainant as trademark in various countries and regions and a well-known sign worldwide.
The disputed domain name is <circlemugler.com>. It contains the Complainant's trademark together with the prefix "circle". The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's trademarks.
The Respondent is not affiliated in any manner to the Complainant and has never been authorized to use the registered trademark of the Complainant. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith since the Respondent offers sponsored links (also to competing companies), covers its identity and combines the Complainant's famous trademark with the prefix "circle", which constitutes bad faith registration and use.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of the Complainant's trademark MUGLER together with the generic word "circle".
Under the Policy, the use of a trademark with a generic word (such as e.g. "circle") does not make a domain name distinctive from the trademark – such a prefix cannot negate confusing similarity where it otherwise exists, as it does in the present case.
In fact, it is the Panel's conviction that in using a word like "circle" (or other generic pre-/suffix) together with a famous trademark rather strengthens the impression that the disputed domain name is in some way connected to the Complainant or at least "free rides" on the fame/publicity of the Complainant's trademark (see e.g. Telstra Corporation Limited v. Peter Lombardo, Marino Sussich and Ray Landers, WIPO Case No. D2000-1511, <telstra-free-online.com> et al; Dixons Group Plc v. Mr. Abu Abdullaah, WIPO Case No. D2000-1406, <dixons-online.com>; Ryder Cup Europe LLP v. Rydercuponline.com / Andrew Seaforth, WIPO Case No. D2010-0688, <rydercuponline.com>; Sanofi-aventis, AVENTISUB II Inc. v. MuruganNadar / Rajesh Singh, WIPO Case No. D2010-1959, <buygenericallegra.com>; Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. MrToys.com LLC, WIPO Case No. D2012-1356 <bacichocolate.com> et al; Allianz SE v. Roy Lee / Traffic-Domain.com, WIPO Case No. D2012-1459 <allianztraveinsurance.com> et al; Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft v. mei xudong, WIPO Case No. D2013-0150 <swarovski-onlinesale.com>; Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft v. 'www.swarovski-outlet.org', WIPO Case No. D2013-0335 <swarovski-outlet.org>; and Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A. v. Brian Walket/Brain Walket, WIPO Case No. D2013-1532, <groupintesasanpaolo.com>.
The Panel therefore finds that the Complainant has made out the first of the three elements under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy the Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
However, by virtue of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, it is open to a respondent to establish its rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, among other circumstances, by showing any of the following elements:
"(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue."
If the Respondent demonstrates any of these elements or anything else that shows it has a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, the Complainant will have failed to discharge its onus and the Complaint will fail with respect to the disputed domain name. Indeed, it is well established that, as it is put in the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second edition ("WIPO Overview 2.0"), paragraph 2.1, "complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. Once such prima facie case is made, the burden production shifts to come forward with appropriate allegation or evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to do so, a complainant is generally deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the UDRP".
In the present case the Respondent failed to submit a Response. Considering all of the evidence in the Complaint together with the Annexes presented by the Complainant and the Complainant's contentions that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, that the Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant, and that the Respondent has not received any license or consent, express or implied, to use the Complainant's trademark MUGLER in a domain name or in any other manner, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has made out an undisputed prima facie case so that the conditions set out in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been met by the Complainant.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
For the purpose of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy, if the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, are found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of the domain names in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of the Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent's documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the Respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from using the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the Respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent's website or other online 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 web site or location.
As stated in many decisions adopted under the Policy (e.g. Robert Ellenbogen v. Mike Pearson, WIPO Case No. D2000-0001, <musicweb.com>) both conditions, registered and used in bad faith, are cumulative, consequently, the Complainant must show that:
- the disputed domain name was registered by the Respondent in bad faith, and
- the disputed domain name is being used by the Respondent in bad faith.
Registered in bad faith
In the Panel's view it is incontestable that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith because it must have been aware of the fame and distinctiveness of the trademark MUGLER since the selection of the disputed domain name, which wholly incorporates the Complainant's trademark, cannot be a coincidence – "mugler" is not a descriptive or generic term. When registering the disputed domain name (distinctive trademark + generic word "circle"), it is pretty unlikely that the Respondent would have chosen the disputed domain name unless seeking to create an impression of association with the Complainant's fame and reputation (see e.g. Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft v. www.swarovski-shop.me, WIPO Case No. DME2013-0004, <swarovski-shop.me>).
Used in bad faith
The Panel further takes the view that the content of a website (whether it is similar or different from the business of a trademark owner) is relevant in the finding of bad faith use. This is especially so when a potential visitor, after typing in a confusingly similar domain name, reaches a respondent's website offering similar contents and there is an implied act of unfair competition (deception of the consumer). Such an act is an evidence of bad faith.
In the present case the Respondent presents on its website sponsored links, some of these links are related to direct competitors of the Complainant (Annex 8 to the Complaint).
The Panel considers accordingly that in attracting Internet consumers by using the MUGLER well-known brand in the disputed domain name in order to re-direct such consumers to other websites promoting and selling competitors' products is a further strong indicator of the Respondent's bad faith and clearly infringes the Complainant's rights in the MUGLER mark.
In this regard, it has been deemed by numerous UDRP panels that attracting Internet traffic and diverting it to website(s) selling products of complainant's competitors by using a domain name identical or confusingly similar is evidence of bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. See e.g. Edmunds.com v. Ultimate Search, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2001-1319, <edmund.com>, registration and use of a domain name to redirect Internet users to websites of competing organizations constitute bad faith registration and use under the Policy; see also Nikon, Inc and Nikon Corporation v. Technilab, Inc, WIPO Case No. D2000-1774, <nikoncamera.com> et. al; the use of the <nikoncamera.com> domain name for a site that sold Nikon products and those of its competitors constitute an improper use of complainant's mark to attract Internet users to respondent's site for commercial gain by creating a likehood of confusion as to source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the site; see also National City Corporation v. MH Networks LLC, WIPO Case No. D2004-0128, <national-city-mortgage.com>, in which bad faith was retained for a domain name resolved to a website that included links to mortgage related services which in turns led to a search results page listing "sponsored links" many of which featured complainant's competitors; see also AT&T Corp. v. Azim Hemani, WIPO Case No. D2003-0634, <attphonecard.net>.
In light of all the above findings, the Panel resolves that the Respondent is intentionally attempting to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its websites by creating a likehood of confusion with the Complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent's websites or of the products or services posted on or linked to the Respondent's websites.
Finally, the fact that the disputed domain name is for sale strengthens the Panel's view that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name in bad faith, primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration. The overriding objective of the Policy is to prevent abusive domain name registrations and use for the benefit of legitimate trademark owners, in circumstances where the registrant is seeking to profit from and exploit the trademark of another (see Match.com, LP v. Bill Zag and NWLAWS.ORG, WIPO Case No. D2004-0230, <flowersmatch.com> et al; as noted in Research In Motion Limited v. Dustin Picov, WIPO Case No. D2001-0492, <researchinmotion.com>, when a domain name is so obviously connected with a complainant and the complainant's mark or products, its very use by a registrant with no connection to the complainant suggests "opportunistic bad faith").
Accordingly, for all the various reasons discussed above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <circlemugler.com> has been registered and is being used by the Respondent 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 disputed domain name <circlemugler.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: June 10, 2014