WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. Wang zhan qi
Case No. D2015-2158
1. The Parties
Complainant is Accor of Paris, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
Respondent is Wang zhan qi of Zhengzhou, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <accormercurhotel.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 November 26, 2015. On November 26, 2015, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 30, 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 and 4, the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceeding commenced on December 2, 2015. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 22, 2015. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on December 23, 2015.
The Center appointed Lawrence K. Nodine as the sole panelist in this matter on January 13, 2016. 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 is the operator of more than 3,700 hotels in approximately 94 countries worldwide. Complainant’s hotels range from economic to mid-scale to luxury, featuring notable hotel chains such as Pullman, Novotel, Grand Mercure and Ibis.
Complainant is the owner of several trademark registrations for the ACCOR and MERCURE marks (collectively, the “ACCOR Marks”), namely International Registration Nos. 727696, 1128307, 403334, 615787, 900839, 847330, and 1201180. Complainant also owns the domain names <accorhotels.com> and <mercure.com>, registered on April 30, 1998, and April 16, 1996, respectively.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 12, 2014 and expires on August 11, 2016.
5. Parties’ Contentions
Complainant states that the ACCOR Marks enjoy a worldwide reputation associated with the hotel business and have become well known or famous. Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the ACCOR Marks because it reproduces the ACCOR mark in its entirety and imitates the MERCURE mark by using a misspelling, namely leaving off the final “e”. Complainant states that this act of “typosquatting” does not significantly affect the appearance or pronunciation of the disputed domain name, and that the addition of the generic term “hotel” enhances the likelihood of confusion because it corresponds to Complainant’s field of activity.
Complainant alleges that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name because Complainant’s ACCOR Marks have been registered for years prior to the registration of the disputed domain name, Respondent is not commonly known by the names Accor or Mercure, and Respondent is not affiliated with or authorized by Complainant to use the ACCOR Marks. Complainant further states that Respondent cannot demonstrate a bona fide offering of goods or services because the disputed domain name resolves to a Chinese website reproducing Complainant’s GRAND MERCURE trademark and imitating an official booking website for the Accor Grand Mercure Shanghai Hongqiao Hotel, which is owned by Complainant. Complainant notes that Respondent’s registration of other domain names reproducing famous hotel names further evidences Respondent’s status as a cybersquatter, indicating a lack of legitimate goods or services. Finally, Complainant states Respondent failed to answer Complainant’s cease and desist letter.
Regarding bad faith, Complainant states that it is implausible that Respondent was unaware of Complainant when he registered the disputed domain name because he combined two of Complainant’s trademarks and the descriptive word “hotel”, which indicates he was aware of Complainant and its business. Complainant also asserts that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to host a website mimicking Complainant’s official website and containing a telephone number of a hotel booking platform evidences bad faith, as Respondent has no authorization from Complainant to do so.
Respondent did not respond to Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that Complainant has rights in the ACCOR Marks in view of its trademark registrations. The Panel further finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the ACCOR Marks because it incorporates the entirety of the ACCOR mark and a misspelled version of the MERCURE mark. The addition of the descriptive term “hotel” only serves to increase confusion, as this is the business in which Complainant operates.
The Panel finds that Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel finds that Respondent is not commonly known by the names Accor or Mercure and is not affiliated with or authorized by Complainant to use the ACCOR Marks. Respondent is using the disputed domain name to resolve to a website which imitates one of Complainant’s official sites, thereby confusing consumers into believing that the website is hosted by or affiliated with Complainant when it is not, which is not a bona fide offering of goods or services. See, e.g., Bottega Veneta SA v. Chen Kai a.k.a. Kai Chen/ WhoIs Agent, Domain WhoIs Protection Service, WIPO Case No. D2013-0436.
The Panel finds that Complainant has carried its burden and satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Regarding bad faith registration, Complainant’s MERCURE mark has been registered since at least 1973, and Complainant’s ACCOR Mark has been registered since at least 1999. Additionally, Respondent’s use of “mercur” in the disputed domain name is “typosquatting”, which takes advantage of typing mistakes made by consumers. Finally, Respondent combined the ACCOR and MERCURE marks, along with the descriptive term “hotel” to reference Complainant’s business. The Panel therefore finds that Respondent must have been aware of Complainant’s rights in the ACCOR Marks and registered the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Regarding bad faith use, Respondent is using the disputed domain name to host a fraudulent website, imitating one of Complainant’s websites and deceiving consumers into believing the website is hosted or sponsored by Complainant. Additionally, the website posts a telephone number which links to a separate hotel booking site. Based on these facts, the Panel finds that Respondents is intentionally attempting to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with Complainant’s ACCOR Marks. See Bottega Veneta SA v. Chen Kai a.k.a. Kai Chen/ WhoIs Agent, Domain WhoIs Protection Service, supra. Complainant also sent a cease and desist letter to Respondent, which went unanswered, further evidencing bad faith use. PRADA S.A. v. AliReza Khansoltani, WIPO Case No. DIR2012-0002.
The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has carried its burden and satisfied 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 disputed domain name <accormercurhotel.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Lawrence K. Nodine
Date: January 27, 2016