WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Inter-Continental Hotels v. yin wei fen
Case No. D2014-1741
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Inter-Continental Hotels of Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America (“USA”), represented by The Giga Law Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, USA.
The Respondent is yin wei fen of zhe Jiang, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.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 October 7, 2014. On October 7, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 10, 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 October 15, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was November 4, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 5, 2014.
The Center appointed Marilena Comanescu as the sole panelist in this matter on November 7, 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.
The language of the proceeding is English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a member of InterContinental Hotels Group (“IHG”), a world leading hotel company that owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, more than 4,700 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world.
The INTERCONTINENTAL brand was founded in 1948 and is currently used in connection with over 180 hotels worldwide, offering over 60,907 hotel rooms. The Complainant or its affiliates own at least 287 trademark registrations in at least 176 countries or geographic regions worldwide for trademarks that consist of or contain the trademark INTERCONTINENTAL, including the Chinese Trademark Registration No. 989822 protected since April 21, 1997 for services in class 42.
The disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com> was registered on June 25, 2011 and resolves to a website that falsely appears to be an official website for, or otherwise affiliated with, the Complainant and the Complainant’s InterContinental Shanghai Expo hotel in Shanghai, China.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark INTERCONTINENTAL, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In view of the default and the absence of any reply to the Complaint by the Respondent, the discussion and findings will be based upon the contentions in the Complaint and any reasonable position that can be attributable to the Respondent. Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, a complainant can only succeed in an administrative proceeding under the Policy if the following circumstances are met:
(i) the disputed 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 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 Complainant holds worldwide trademark registrations for the INTERCONTINENTAL trademark in connection with hotel services. The disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com> includes the Complainant’s trademark and the generic terms “expo” and “hotel”. This Panel agrees with the majority view of UDRP panels1 , that the addition of merely generic, descriptive terms, added either singly or collectively, 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.
Given the above, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark INTERCONTINENTAL, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant asserts that it has given no license or other right to use or register its trademarks to the Respondent, that the Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and that the Respondent has not used the disputed domain name in connection with a legitimate non commercial or a bona fide offering of goods and services. In line with the previous UDRP decisions, the Panel accepts that the Complainant has provided a prima facie case of the Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in relation to the disputed domain name, and the burden of production shifts to the Respondent.
The Respondent chose not to challenge the Complainant’s allegations. There is no evidence before the Panel to support the contrary, and therefore the Panel accepts these arguments as facts.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com>, pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The trademark INTERCONTINENTAL is used for six decades in connection with hotel activities and enjoys a high reputation worldwide including in China where the Respondent resides, as found by the panel in another case involving the Complainant, Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation v. Hui Lian Yang/Yang Hui Lian; a/k/a Jian Ren Zhou/Zhou Jian Ren; a/k/a Jian Guo Liu/Liu Jian Guo, WIPO Case No. D2014-0272. Moreover, the Complainant operates, among others the InterContinental Shanghai Expo hotel in Shanghai, China.
The disputed domain name was created in 2011 and incorporates the INTERCONTINENTAL trademark and the descriptive terms “expo” and “hotel”.
Further, the disputed domain name resolves to a webpage that copies the look and feel previously used by the Complainant on its hotel websites thus falsely appearing to be an official website for, or otherwise affiliated with the Complainant, particularly with the Complainant’s InterContinental Shanghai Expo Hotel in Shanghai, China. This fact supports the inference that the purpose of the Respondent’s diversion of traffic from the Complainant to itself is for the Respondent’s own commercial gain, in the same time being likely to damage the Complainant’s business and reputation. Such facts constitute bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not respond to the Complaint. Given the other circumstances of the case, such behavior may be considered as further evidence of bad faith in registering and using the disputed domain name.
For the above, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com> 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 name <intercontinentalexpohotel.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: November 17, 2014
1 See paragraph 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”).