WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Air France-KLM v. Zakir Patel
Case No. D2015-0959
1. The Parties
Complainant is Air France-KLM of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
Respondent is Zakir Patel of Southfield, Michigan, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name is <wwwairfranceklm.com> which 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 June 3, 2015. On June 3 and 4, 2015, the Center received copies of email communications from Respondent. On June 5, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 5, 2015, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 12, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 2, 2015.
On June 12, 2015, the Center received copies of email communications between Respondent and Complainant. Apart from those email communications, no formal Response was received from Respondent by the due date. On July 3, 2015, the Center notified the parties that it would proceed to Panel Appointment.
The Center appointed Gerardo Saavedra as the sole panelist in this matter on July 10, 2015. This Panel finds that it was properly constituted. This 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 has rights over the AIR FRANCE KLM (and design) mark for which it holds (i) international trademark registration No. 863406, registered on June 17, 2005, in classes 16, 35, 36, 38, 39 and 42; and (ii) trademark registration No. 3335339 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, registered on November 13, 2007 in classes 16, 35, 36, 38, 39 and 42.
The disputed domain name was created on March 23, 2014.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant's assertions may be summarized as follows.
Complainant is the result of a merger announced on September 29, 2003 between two companies in the field of air transportation, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ("KLM"). Air France is one of the world's major airline companies, tracing its origins back to 1933, which serves 183 towns in more than 98 countries and carry out 1,500 flights every day. KLM is one of the most important international airlines, based in the Netherlands, which services more than 130 destinations worldwide. Together, Air France and KLM form one of the largest air transport groups in Europe and in the world. Air France-KLM is the trade name and the corporate name of Complainant since the creation of the group.
Complainant is the registered owner of trademarks consisting of, or including the words, AIR FRANCE KLM in a great majority of countries in the world. It also registered the domain name <airfranceklm.com>.
The AIR FRANCE KLM trademark is well known throughout the world, in the sense of article 6bis of the Paris Union Convention, and confers to its holder a broad protection. Previous UDRP panels have already recognized its well-known character in UDRP cases.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant's trademark, which is entirely reproduced in the disputed domain name. The first part of the disputed domain name ("www") is the well-known acronym for World Wide Web. The mere addition of the "www" without a dot separation before the trademark is therefore not sufficient to confer a distinctive character to the disputed domain name. Therefore, the only distinctive part of the disputed domain name is the reproduction of Complainant's trademark.
Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent is not an agent or employee of Complainant, neither a licensee nor a subsidiary of Complainant. Respondent is not related in any way to Complainant's business, and Complainant has never given any authorization to Respondent to use its trademark. Respondent is not known by "airfranceklm". Respondent's use of Complainant's trademark in the disputed domain name cannot be considered as a bona fide offering of goods or services. The disputed domain name points to a parking page and it serves to attract Internet users to competitor's websites of Complainant. That does not confer rights or legitimate interests to Respondent.
Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Complainant's trademark is well and widely known, including in the United States of America where Respondent is established. It seems impossible Respondent was not aware of Complainant and its trademark. Thus, Complainant claims that Respondent was conscious to infringe Complainant's trademark rights at the time of registration of the disputed domain name.
The choice of the disputed domain name, beginning with the well-known prefix "www" without a separating dot also illustrates the bad faith registration. The only purpose of Respondent is to take advantage of possible typing errors by Internet users, to attract them to its parking web page when trying to access Complainant's website.
Respondent is the registrant of several domain names, which include or misspell well-known trademarks in the field of airlines. All these domain names constitute typo squatting of famous domain names. The list and WhoIs data of the domain names identified by Complainant, whose use seem to be illegitimate, are as follows: <wwwspringairlines.com>, <wwwaircosta.com>, <wwwinterjet.com>, <airsahara.com>, <airpgs.com>, <flyair1.com>, <indigo-airlines.com>, <xiamanair.com>, <airsaudia.com>, <royalqatar.com>, <eitihad.com>, <airvishtara.com>, <airindus.com>, <goairindia.com>, <flycostaair.com>, <flyairjet.com> and <porterair.com>. For each above listed domain name, Respondent uses the same process as in the disputed domain name by either adding the prefix "www", or changing the suffix of the domain names or one letter of the trademark. The choice of these domain names shows Respondent's pattern of bad faith registrations.
Respondent attempts to attract Internet users to the website associated to the disputed domain name for commercial gain. Respondent uses Complainant's trademark to redirect Internet users to a web page listing comparison engines and Complainants' competitors websites which allow to make flight reservations. Respondent never mentions in his website that there is no link between Complainant and his website and activity, which demonstrates Respondent's bad faith use.
That confusion diverts the users from Complainant's official website towards Respondent's website, on which there are advertisements. By clicking on the ads, the Internet users are redirected to the websites of Complainant's competitors. A domain name registrant is responsible for the contents activated by its domain name, even when the contents are automatically generated.
Respondent uses the Air France logo in his web page, which increases the confusion of Internet users. Thus it may be asserted that the disputed domain name was registered for the purpose of disrupting Complainant's business and for commercial gain.
A cease-and-desist letter was sent to Respondent asking him to stop using the disputed domain name. The uninterrupted use of the disputed domain name after the receipt of such letter demonstrates Respondent's bad faith. The reading of Complainant's letter incited Respondent to change his website's content. Respondent then chose to garnish his website with online press articles concerning various airlines as well as a number of other topics. By analyzing Respondent's website's sources codes, it can be seen that the press articles are automatically selected and provided by Google services. Therefore Respondent makes no real editorial selection, thus having no involvement in the articles' choice or wording. The advertisement of Complainant's competitors remains on Respondent's website. That behavior confirms the bad faith use of the disputed domain name. Respondent knew he acted illegitimately, that is the only motivation for him to change his website's content. Thus that change of use should be construed as an additional fraudulent maneuver rather than a late legitimate remedy.
Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant.
Respondent did not file a formal Response. However, as noted above, Respondent sent several email communications whose most relevant content is as follows: (i) first email of June 12, 2015: "As per my email earlier, I have already cancelled the above domain from Go Daddy and My account and I got the confirmation of cancellation from Go Daddy the same day as pasted below. you can initiate transfer of the domain to your account and if any action is needed from my end to transfer the domain to your account then please let me know. Go Daddy policy is to lock the domain names in dispute and we both the parties can inform Go Daddy to transfer the domain to your account and close this dispute"; (ii) second email of June 12, 2015: "I unconditionally agree to transfer the domain name wwwairfranceklm to your client and have already deactivated the domain from my account few days back itself. I hereby inform Godaddy to pls transfer the domain name to your account so that we can close this dispute. Pls let me know if you need any thing further from my end"; (iii) third email of June 12, 2015: "As I have already cancelled the Domain so any associated services like the e-mail services for the domain name and every MX records in domain name zonefile have also been deleted along with it. On Cost front, I do not have any idea or money so I will like it to be removed by you. I hereby confirm by a by a written statement not to register without legitimate interest any signs identical or similar to the signs on which Air France - KLM, Société Air France and KLM may claim rights".
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel to "decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable".
In principle, the burden for Complainant, under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, is to show: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; (ii) that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
However, in the case at hand this Panel has first to consider Respondent's email communications where Respondent clearly stated his willingness to transfer the disputed domain name to Complainant. Similar situations have been dealt with under a number of UDRP decisions.1
In this case Respondent submitted no defense and expressly consented to the remedy sought by Complainant. This Panel finds that there is no further litis in this case: Complainant asked for the transfer of the disputed domain name and Respondent expressly agreed to such transfer. In view of the above this Panel finds that the appropriate course of action is to grant the remedy requested by Complainant, being unnecessary in this case to examine whether the elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are met.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, this Panel orders that the disputed domain name <wwwairfranceklm.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: July 24, 2015
1 See Williams-Sonoma, Inc., v. EZ-Port, WIPO Case No. D2000-0207: "Because Respondent has consented to the relief requested by Complainant, it is not necessary to review the facts supporting the claim [...] the better course is to enter an order granting the relief requested by the Complainant so that the transfer may occur without further delay." See also The Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. Mike Morgan, WIPO Case No. D2005-1132; KBC Group N.V. and KBC Bank N.V. v. Bank Dir, Bankgroup, WIPO Case No. D2008-0446; and Bulova Invest Ltd v. Nichola Craven, EFA Limited, WIPO Case No. D2015-0532.