WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société des Hotels Méridien v. Xiao Ping Ping
Case No. D2014-0733
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Société des Hotels Méridien of France, represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, PC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Xiao Ping Ping of Beijing, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <lemeridienss.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 5, 2014. On May 6, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 6, 2014, 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 15, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 4, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 5, 2014.
The Center appointed Douglas Clark as the sole panelist in this matter on June 26, 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 the owner of several hotels under the trademark LE MERIDIEN, including the Le Meridien She Shan in Shanghai, China.
The Complainant is the registrant of the trademark LE MERIDIEN in many countries of the world including in China, with the earliest Community trademark registration on February 10, 2000
The disputed domain name <lemeridienss.com> was registered on December 14, 2011. The disputed domain name resolves to a website which encourages bookings and reservations at the Complainant’s Le Meridien She Shan Hotel. The website claims to be an official website for the property.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the registered trademark LE MERIDIEN. The addition of the generic word “hotel” and geographical indicator “ss”, which is an abbreviation for She Shan, does not detract from this similarity.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. It has not been authorized or licensed by the Complainant to use the LE MERIDIEN trademark.
The Complainant contends that the Respondent has clearly registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant contends that the Respondent must have known of the Respondent when registering the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
This is a very simple case of domain name cybersquatting that the UDRP was designed to stop. The Panel accordingly will only make brief findings.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name < lemeridienss.com > is composed of the Complainant’s registered trademark LE MERIDIEN and the letters “ss”. “ss” is either meaningless or a geographic indicator for She Shan.
According to previous UDRP decisions, the “addition of merely generic, descriptive, or geographical wording to a trademark in a domain name would normally be insufficient in itself to avoid a finding of confusing similarity under the first element of the UDRP” (see paragraph 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”)).
Therefore, the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.
The first element of the UDRP is made out.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not responded to the Complaint to assert any rights or legitimate interests. None of the circumstances in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, which sets out how a respondent can prove its rights or legitimate interests, are present in this case.
Since the Complainant has made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests and which the Respondent has not rebutted, the Panel finds that the second element of the UDRP is made out.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel also finds that the disputed domain name has been registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith. The website under the disputed domain name is being used to attract consumers to make bookings through the website.
This case falls within paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy which provides that a registrant has registered and is using a domain name in bad faith where:
“(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site 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 your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”
The third element of the UDRP is made out.
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 <lemeridienss.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 10, 2014