WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
La Redoute S.A v. Domain Admin, Whois protection / Denis Tabac
Case No. D2015-0429
1. The Parties
Complainant is La Redoute S.A of Roubaix, France represented by CSC Digital Brand Services AB, France.
Respondent is Domain Admin, whois protection of Praha, Czech Republic / Denis Tabac of Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <laredoutefrance.com> is registered with Gransy, s.r.o. d/b/a subreg.cz (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on March 11, 2015. On March 11, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On March 12, 2015, 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 the same date 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 on March 17, 2015.
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 March 18, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was April 7, 2015. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center confirmed Respondent’s default on April 9, 2015.
The Center appointed Clark W. Lackert as the sole panelist in this matter on April 17, 2015. 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 La Redoute S.A is a French company which was founded in 1875 and sells clothing and home décor products under the trademark LA REDOUTE. Complainant’s LA REDOUTE mark has been registered as a trade name in France since 1971 and is registered as a trademark in the European Community, Moldova, the Russian Federation, and other countries. Complainant’s trademark rights in Europe can be traced to at least as early as 1982, while its trademark rights in Moldova and the Russian Federation can be traced to at least as early as 1994 and 2002, respectively. Complainant’s LA REDOUTE trademark has been recognized as a well-known trademark by at least one WIPO Panel decision, specifically Redcats S.A. And La Redoute S.A. v. Tumay Asena, WIPO Case No. D2001-0859. In addition to its trademark rights, Complainant has established ownership of multiple domain names incorporating its LA REDOUTE trademark including <laredoute.com>, <laredoute.ru>, and <laredoute.fr>.
The disputed domain name was created on June 9, 2013. Respondent Domain Admin, WHOIS Protection is a domain name registration privacy service based in the Czech Republic. On March 12, 2015 the Registrar has informed that the underlying registrant of the disputed domain name is Denis Tabac, an individual of Moldova.
Complainant directed a cease and desist letter to the administrative contact e-mail address for the disputed domain name on January 28, 2014. There is no evidence of a response to the cease and desist letter.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant alleges that the disputed domain name <laredoutefrance.com> is identical or confusingly similar to its LA REDOUTE trademark because it incorporates its LA REDOUTE trademark in its entirety and combines it with the geographic term “France”. It is Complainant’s position that the incorporation of the term “France” does not add any distinction to the disputed domain name, and as such the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its LA REDOUTE trademark. Complainant alleges that the use of its trademark in the disputed domain name will contribute to consumer confusion, as members of the public are likely to believe that the disputed domain name is a domain name owned by, or commercially related to, Complainant.
Complainant contends that its mark is famous and maintains that Respondent must have been aware of Complainant’s LA REDOUTE trademark when registering the disputed domain name <laredoutefrance.com>. Complainant also contends that the use of the disputed domain name is not legitimate, citing content which suggests that Complainant’s products are being offered for sale along with products of Complainant’s competitors, and alleging that an absence of a disclaimer confirming no relationship between Complainant and the disputed domain name contributes to a finding that the disputed domain name could divert or mislead Internet users. Complainant accuses Respondent of conveying a false impression that it is authorized to use Complainant’s trademark and creating an impression that there is a commercial relationship between the disputed domain name and Complainant. Complainant also states that Respondent is not using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services, rather is only using the disputed domain name to mislead Internet users and increase traffic to its website.
Regarding bad faith, Complainant relies upon arguments including a lack of a reply to its cease and desist letter, the use of a privacy registration service by Respondent, the use of the disputed domain name to mislead Internet traffic, and attempts by Respondent to create a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s LA REDOUTE trademark and take advantage of Complainant’s trademark and notoriety.
Complainant has requested that ownership of the disputed domain name <laredoutefrance.com> be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.
Respondent did not file a response to the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name combines Complainant’s LA REDOUTE trademark and the country name “France”. It is clear that Complainant has established trademark rights in LA REDOUTE which precede registration of the disputed domain name by many years. It is well-established that the incorporation of a country name such as “France” into a disputed domain name generally does not add distinctiveness to a domain name registration and does not avoid a likelihood of confusion when combined with a registered trademark to form a domain name. See, e.g., Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel v. Percheron Berrada, WIPO Case No. D2014-2061(holding that “creditmutuelfrance.com” added no distinction when combined with the CREDIT MUTUEL trademark in a domain name) and L'Oréal SA v. LV Kefeng, WIPO Case No. D2009-1231 (holding that the addition of common geographical terms to trademarks to form the domain names <lorealchina.org> and <maybellinechina.org> resulted in domain names which were confusingly similar to the trademarks at issue).
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
This is no evidence in the file that Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the trademark in issue.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The record supports a finding of bad faith use and registration based upon Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy which states that where a registrant, by using a domain name, intentionally attempts to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to a website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the registrant’s website, such use constitutes evidence of bad faith registration and use. It has been established that Complainant’s trademark is widely known (see Redcats S.A. And La Redoute S.A. v. Tumay Asena, WIPO Case No. D2001-0859). It has been established that the registration of a domain name incorporating a well-known trademark can constitute registration in bad faith, since it is unlikely that the registrant was unaware of the established rights in the mark at the time the domain name was registered. See, e.g., Nike, Inc. v. B.B. de Boer, WIPO Case No. D2000-1397 (finding bad faith since it was unlikely that the registrant of <nike-shoes.com> was unaware of complainant’s well-known NIKE trademark when registering the domain name) and Dr. Ing. H.c. F. Porsche AG v. Rojeen Rayaneh, WIPO Case No. D2004-0488 (finding bad faith, noting that it was implausible that respondent was unaware of complainant’s trademark PORSCHE when registering <porsche-me.com>).
The Panel finds that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy are satisfied.
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 <laredoutefrance.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Clark W. Lackert
Date: May 1, 2015