WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. WebTasarimCenter, Ibrahim Caglayan
Case No. D2016-0945
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin of Clermont-Ferrand, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is WebTasarimCenter, Ibrahim Caglayan of Istanbul, Turkey.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <fenerbahcemichelinlastik.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 11, 2016. On May 12, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On May 13, 2016, 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 24, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 13, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 14, 2016.
The Center appointed Linda Chang as the sole panelist in this matter on June 28, 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
The Complainant, headquartered in France, manufactures and markets tires for vehicles. The Complainant has a long-term presence in the Turkish tire market, and founded “Michelin tires Ticaret AS” in 1996 to market and distribute light trucks, heavy duty trucks, agricultural, construction machinery and forklift tires through more than 300 networks of dealers.
The Complainant is the owner of the Turkish trademark MICHELIN No. 134240 registered on July 28, 1992, Turkish trademark MICHELIN No. 11917 registered on July 5, 2002, and International trademark MICHELIN No. 348615 registered on July 24, 1968. All are duly renewed and stay valid.
The Domain Name was registered on September 21, 2015. On February 8, 2016, the Complainant’s representative sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent via registered letter and email requesting transfer of the Domain Name to the Complainant. The letter was never responded despite several reminders sent from the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends as follows:
(1) The Domain Name is identical or at least confusingly similar to the Complainant’s MICHELIN trademark. The Domain Name substantially reproduces the MICHELIN trademark in its entirety, with the addition of the generic term “lastik” meaning “tire” in Turkish and the geographical term “fenerbahce”. Accordingly, the Respondent created a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s MICHELIN trademark by registering the Domain Name.
(2) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant nor has it been authorized to use and register its trademarks, or to seek registration of any domain name incorporating the MICHELIN trademark. The Respondent did not demonstrate use of or demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name or name corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.
(3) The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. In light of the reputation of the Complainant’s MICHELIN trademark throughout the world including Turkey and the composition of the Domain Name, it is unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of the MICHELIN trademark when registering the Domain Name. Furthermore, the Domain Name used to resolve to a website displaying a video of an ancient Michelin reseller and is currently inactive. The Domain Name was being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has presented sufficient evidence to prove its registered trademark rights in the MICHELIN mark.
“.com” being the generic Top-Level Domain is not a distinguishing factor. Thus the Domain Name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s MICHELIN trademark, the generic word “lastik” meaning “tire” in Turkish, and the geographical term “fenerbahce”.
The Panel agrees that the addition of generic and geographical terms does not avoid the finding of confusing similarity, but the addition of generic term “lastik” instead reinforces the risk of confusion since this term refers to the Complainant’s field of activities. See Carlsberg A/S v. Personal / decohouse, decohouse, WIPO Case No. D2011-0972; ECCO Sko A/S v. Jacklee, WIPO Case No. D2011-0800.
Accordingly, the Panel holds the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s MICHELIN trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant contends that the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant, nor has it been authorized to use and register the Complainant’s trademark, or to seek the registration of any domain name that incorporates the MICHELIN trademark.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established prima facie evidence that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, and the burden of production shifts to the Respondent. See International Hospitality Management – IHM S.p.A. v. Enrico Callegari Ecostudio, WIPO Case No. D2002-0683.
However, the Respondent has chosen not to respond and prove its rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. Accordingly, the Panel determines that based on the evidence presented on the record, there is no indication that the Respondent may have rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
For all of the above reasons, the Panel therefore finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Complainant owns trademark registrations in Turkey dated back to as early as 1992, and founded “Michelin tires Ticaret AS” in 1996. MICHELIN-trademarked tires are being distributed through more than 300 networks of dealers in Turkey. The Panel agrees that the Complainant has developed tremendous goodwill in Turkey by marketing the MICHELIN-trademarked tires.
Given the reputation of the MICHELIN trademark worldwide including in Turkey, the Panel finds it implausible that the Respondent did not know of the MICHELIN trademark at the time of registering the Domain Name. The Respondent’s previous displaying of a video of an ancient Michelin reseller further proves the Respondent’s awareness of the MICHELIN trademark when registering the Domain Name. The Panel concludes that the Respondent’s awareness of the MICHELIN mark at the time of registration suggests opportunistic bad faith registration. See Deutsche Bank AG v. Diego-Arturo Bruckner, WIPO Case No. D2000-0277.
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is inactive. The Panel accepts that the Respondent engages in passive holding of the Domain Name, which satisfies the situations clarified in the landmark case Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003, and constitutes bad faith.
The Respondent has chosen not to respond to the cease-and-desist letter sent from the Complainant, and this Complaint. All these behaviors of the Respondent further support a finding of bad faith use. See The Argento Wine Company Limited v. Argento Beijing Trading Company, WIPO Case No. D2009-0610, “The failure of the Respondent to respond to the Complaint further supports an inference of bad faith (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. (This Domain is For Sale) Joshuathan Investments, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0787)”.
In light of the above facts and reasons, the Panel therefore determines that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith pursuant to 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, <fenerbahcemichelinlastik.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 12, 2016