WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Le Cordon Bleu International B.V. v. Jean-Marc de Fety, Real Village Limited / Domains by Proxy LLC
Case No. D2015-0972
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Le Cordon Bleu International B.V. of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, internally represented.
The Respondent is Jean-Marc de Fety, Real Village Limited of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland / Domains by Proxy LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <llecordonbleu.com> (the “Domain Name”) 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 9, 2015. On June 9, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On June 10, 2015, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named the Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on June 12, 2015 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on June 15, 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 the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on June 17, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 17, 2015.
On June 17, 2015 and June 18, 2015 the Center received email communications from the Respondent requesting information on how to resolve the dispute. On June 18, 2015, the Center sent a possible settlement email to the Parties. On June 18, 2015, the Complainant requested a suspension of the proceedings. On June 18, 2015, the Center confirmed the suspension of the proceedings until July 18, 2015. On July 10, 2015, the Complainant requested the reinstitution of the proceedings, which the Center confirmed on July 14, 2015. The due date for Response was accordingly changed to August 2, 2015.
The Respondent did not submit any formal response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 3, 2015.
The Center appointed Ellen B Shankman as the sole panelist in this matter on August 7, 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
The date of the Domain Name registration was confirmed by the Registrar to be April 6, 2015. The Complainant provided evidence of multiple trademark registrations for the mark LE CORDON BLEU including, inter alia, International Trademark, No. 494541, (registered on June 28, 1985) and United States Trademark No. 1845299, (registered on July 19, 1994), that predate the date of the Domain Name registration for a variety of related goods.
The Panel also conducted an independent search to determine that the Domain Name is currently active, and resolves to a “parking page” maintained by the Registrar.
Since the Respondent did not respond apart from the Respondent’s request for information on how to resolve the dispute, the facts regarding the use and fame of the Complainant’s mark are taken from the Complaint and are generally accepted as true in the circumstances of this case.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant alleges that Le Cordon Bleu International B.V. is a culinary and hospitality education company, which operates worldwide. For 120 years, Le Cordon Bleu successfully achieves its mission of transmission and influence of French gastronomy through its worldwide network and claims that today Le Cordon Bleu is present in 20 countries with more than 50 schools. The Complainant further alleges that, Le Cordon Bleu has become the number one provider of culinary education in the United States with more than 10,000 American students trained annually.
The Complainant also alleges that, Le Cordon Bleu also produces and sells a wide range of products under its own brand, among others kitchen utensils and containers, textile goods, cutlery, books, magazines, food, and clothing.
In addition, the Complainant alleges that Le Cordon Bleu International B.V. has registered trademarks in respect of LE CORDON BLEU alone and as part of a device or with other words, in respect of a wide range of goods and services, in multiple jurisdictions, and provides evidence of trademark registrations that pre-date registration of the Domain Name.
The Complainant claims its website “www.lecordonbleu.com” has been registered since October 11, 1996.
To summarize the Complaint, the Complainant is the owner of multiple registrations for the trademark LE CORDON BLEU alone and/or as part of a device or with other words, in respect of a wide range of goods and services, in multiple jurisdictions. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademark owned by the Complainant. The addition of the double consonant “L” does not significantly affect the appearance or pronunciation of the Domain Name <llecordonbleu.com>. Therefore, the Domain Name <llecordonbleu.com> could be considered virtually identical and/or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark LE CORDON BLEU. The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Thus, the Respondent’s registration and use of the Domain Name constitutes bad faith registration and use under the Policy, and requests transfer of the Domain Name.
On June 17, 2015 and June 18, 2015, the Center received email communications from the Respondent requesting information on how to resolve the dispute. The Respondent provided no further response.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfactorily proven that it has registered trademark rights for LE CORDON BLEU.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. Further, the Panel finds that the addition of the consonant ”L” at the beginning of the Domain Name does not change the overall impression of the designation as being connected to the trademark of the Complainant. It does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark.
See also Ansell Healthcare Products Inc. v. Australian Therapeutics Supplies Pty, Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2001-0110, stating “The incorporation of a Complainant’s well-known trademark in the registered Domain Name is considered sufficient to find the Domain Name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.”
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark LE CORDON BLEU, under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy in turn identifies three means through which a respondent may establish rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. Although the complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, panels have recognized that this could result in the often-impossible task of proving a negative, requiring information that is primarily if not exclusively within the knowledge of the respondent. Thus, the consensus view is that paragraph 4(c) shifts the burden of production to the respondent to come forward with evidence of a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing. See, e.g., Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270.
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name <llecordonbleu.com> and that it is not related to or affiliated in any way with the Complainant.
Based on the available record, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case, which was not refuted, and that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
Therefore, the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name, under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the distinctiveness of the Complainant’s trademark and reputation, and given the content of the website to which the Domain Name redirects, the Panel agrees with the Complainant’s claims that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name with full knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark LE CORDON BLEU and uses it for the purpose of misleading and diverting Internet traffic.
The Domain Name fully incorporates the Complainant’s trademark LE CORDON BLEU with a single misspelling of an element of the mark, namely a double consonant “L” at the beginning. The Panel notes that the registration of the Domain Name <llecordonbleu.com> with a slight misspelling could be regarded as “typo squatting”. The intentional misspelling of the Complainant’s trademark, so-called typo squatting, could not be considered as fair use and is the obverse of a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of a domain name. See FragranceX. com, Inc. v. Argosweb Corp a/k/a Oleg Techino, WIPO Case No. D2010-1237.
The Domain Name resolves to a “parking page” maintained by the Registrar, which contains sponsored links to other websites.
Furthermore, the Respondent has taken active steps to conceal its identity, by registering the Domain Name under a name that is not its registered business or personal name, using the Domains by Proxy private registration service, which further indicates bad faith by the Respondent.
The Panel finds compelling factual and circumstantial evidence in the record that the Respondent likely knew of the Complainant’s mark when it registered the Domain Name.
It has been held in previous UDRP cases that knowledge of a corresponding mark at the time of the domain name’s registration suggests bad faith (LEGO Juris A/S v. Reiner Stotte, WIPO Case No. D2010-0494; Caixa D’Estalvis I Pensions de Barcelona (“La Caixa”) v. Eric Adam, WIPO Case No. D2006-0464).
Given the evidence of the Complainant’s prior rights in the mark, the timing of the registration of the Domain Name, together with evidence of the “typosquatting” use of the mark in the Domain Name for commercial purposes by the Respondent, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the third requirement that the Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith, under paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Name <llecordonbleu.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Ellen B Shankman
Date: August 19, 2015