WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. SANGHO HEO / Contact Privacy Inc.
Case No. D2014-1471
1. The Parties
Complainant is Accor of Paris, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
Respondent is SANGHO HEO of Las Pinas, Philippines / Contact Privacy Inc. of Toronto, Canada.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <accorhotels-booking.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 August 27, 2014. On August 28, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 28, 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 Complainant on September 1, 2014, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint correcting the identity of Respondent on September 19, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 23, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was October 13, 2014. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 14, 2014.
The Center appointed Timothy D. Casey as the sole panelist in this matter on October 30, 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
Complainant Accor has registered several international trademarks: ACCORHOTELS, registration number 1,103,847, on December, 12, 2011, and ACCOR, registration number 1,128,307, on February 20, 2012 (collectively, the “Trademarks”). Complainant operates more than 3,600 hotels in 92 countries worldwide (including in Canada and the Philippines, where Respondent is located), including hotel chains: PULLMAN, NOVOTEL, MERCURE and IBIS. Complainant registered the domain names <accor.com> on February 23, 1998, and <accorhotels.com> on April 30, 1998.
Little is known of Respondent SANGHO HEO / Contact Privacy Inc. The disputed domain name <accorhotels-booking.com> was registered on August 23, 2014 by Respondent. Complainant experienced difficulty in obtaining the identity of Respondent, which is the reason for the filing of the amended Complaint identifying SANGHO HEO as Respondent.
Complainant asserts that Respondent has engaged in a phishing attempt, e.g., to improperly obtain customers’ personal and financial information, using the disputed domain name <accorhotels-booking.com>. The disputed domain name previously redirected to Complainant’s official website “www.accorhotels.com/fr/france/index.shtml” until the Complaint was amended, at which time the disputed domain name was changed to resolve to an inactive page. According to Complainant, the disputed domain name resolved to Complainant’s official website to give Respondent’s phishing emails a sense of legitimacy. During the time the disputed domain name resolved to Complainant’s website, a customer of Complainant reported receiving what appeared to be a phishing email sent from an email address associated with the disputed domain name (r[…]@accorhotels-booking.com), requesting personal and financial information from a client. The Complaint does not state whether a reply to the phishing email would have been routed to Complainant or Respondent, but it would appear unlikely that the reply would have been routed to Complainant or the phishing attempt would have generated no information for Respondent. Accordingly, the Panel presumes the email address used on the phishing email would have somehow been routed to Respondent, and that in any event Respondent set out to inappropriately obtain information by masquerading as Complainant. In response to the apparent phishing attempt, Complainant sent several cease-and-desist letters to the web host, the Registrar, and its reseller on August 26, 2014. Subsequently, the DNS was removed, the disputed domain name suspended, and this proceeding was commenced by Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar or identical to (and reproduces) ACCOR and ACCORHOTELS, with the addition of generic terms “hotels” and “booking” via a hyphen. Complainant further asserts that its trademarks are well-known and protected worldwide, particularly in relation to hotels and restaurant services. Complainant believes neither use of a descriptive term such as hotels or booking, alone or in combination, with the addition of a hyphen, nor with the addition of the generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) “.com,” are sufficient to avoid a likelihood of confusion between the disputed domain name and the Trademarks. Complainant further believes that the fact that disputed domain name at one time resolved to Complainant’s website, coupled with the use of a corresponding email address (e.g., the phishing attempt), further amplify and support a finding of likelihood of confusion.
Complainant asserts Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because the Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant in any way and has not been authorized by Complainant to use and register its Trademarks or seek registration of any domain name incorporating its Trademarks. Complainant registered its trademarks in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and registered the domain names <accor.com> and <accorhotels.com> in 1998, whereas the disputed domain name was not registered by Respondent until 2014.
Complainant asserts that Respondent is not making any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, particularly because Respondent engaged in a phishing scheme, including directing consumers from the disputed domain name to Complainant’s website in order to defraud consumers into revealing personal and financial information believing that Respondent was associated with Complainant’s bona fide services. Complainant further supports its argument by stating that Respondent registered the disputed domain name with a privacy shield, and subsequently to the filing of the Complaint, registered the domain name <accorhotels.com.ph.>.
Finally, Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name was registered, and is being used, in bad faith. Complainant asserts that it is implausible that Respondent was unaware of Complainant when the disputed domain name was registered, due to what Complainant asserted are its well-known Trademarks, and the occurrence of the phishing attempt including directing consumers from the disputed domain name to Complainant’s website.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In view of the default and the absence of any reply to the Complaint by Respondent, the discussion and findings will be based upon the contentions in the Complaint and any reasonable position that can be attributable to Respondent. Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant can only succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy if the panel finds that:
(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which complainant has rights: and
(ii) respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name: and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Complainant owns the Trademarks and because of their registration dates, they are presumed to have been in continual use in commerce since at least prior to the registration of the disputed domain name. The disputed domain name contains as the initial characters both the ACCOR and ACCORHOTELS Trademarks. The Panel agrees that the addition of “.com” as the gTLD is not relevant to the question of identity or confusing similarity in this case. While the disputed domain name is not identical to either ACCOR or ACCORHOTELS, it does reproduce both Trademarks entirely. As a result, the Panel finds the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to both Trademarks. The addition of “hotels-bookings” to ACCOR and “–bookings” to ACCORHOTELS does nothing to change a consumer’s perception of the disputed domain name in relation to the ACCOR or ACCORHOTELS Trademarks. Furthermore, the additions of “hotels-booking” and “-booking” only serve to enhance the likelihood of confusion by leading consumers to believe that the website is associated with bookings for Complainant’s hotels.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The fact that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with a privacy shield, taken alone, is not a decisive factor, but when taken in combination with other factors present, supports a finding of no legitimate interests. The fact that there is no evidence that Respondent is commonly known by or even associated with the name Accor or Accor Hotels, whereas Accor appears to be well-known, supports a finding of no legitimate interests. Lacking any response from Respondent, the Panel must give weight to Complaint’s allegation that Respondent was engaged in a phishing scheme including directing consumers from the disputed domain name to Complainant’s official website. The fact that the disputed domain name previously resolved to Complainant’s website strongly supports this finding, in addition to the phishing email reproduced by Complainant and the subsequent cease-and-desist letters sent by Complainant. The fact that Respondent registered the domain name <accorhotels.com.ph> after this Complaint was filed taken alone does not support or refute a finding of no legitimate interests. However, when taken in combination with the above factors, this fact does not detract from a finding of no legitimate interests.
Hence, on balance, the Panel concludes that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The un-opposed allegation of phishing, and the evidence submitted in support of phishing, combined with the likelihood of confusion, is sufficient evidence of bad faith. The fact that the disputed domain name was routed to an inactive website after the Complaint was filed is further evidence of bad faith usage. It seems likely, as Complainant alleges, that Respondent intentionally attempted to deceive consumers into providing personal and financial information, believing that Respondent was associated with the bona fide services offered by Complainant. Furthermore, no evidence of good faith use of the disputed domain name by Respondent was presented.
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 <accorhotels-booking.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Timothy D. Casey
Date: November 13, 2014