WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Six Continents Hotels, Inc., Six Continents Limited v. Domain May Be for Sale, Check Afternic.com Domain Admin/Whois Foundation
Case No. D2016-0976
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Six Continents Hotels, Inc., Six Continents Limited both of Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, represented by The GigaLaw, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Domain May Be for Sale, Check Afternic.com Domain Admin/Whois Foundation of Panama City, Panama, represented by Willenken Wilson Loh & Delgado, LLP, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ihgarmyhotel.com> (the "Disputed Domain Name") is registered with NameKing.com (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on May 16, 2016. On May 17, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On May 18, 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 20, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 9, 2016. The Response was filed with the Center on June 8, 2016. On June 9, 2016, the Complainant sent an email to the Center asking the Panel to reject the Respondent's request for a decision to be issued for the transfer the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant without considering the merits of the case.
The Center appointed Gabriela Kennedy as the sole panelist in this matter on June 22, 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 is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group, which collectively owns, manages, leases and licenses more than 5,000 hotels in about 100 countries worldwide, including the InterContrinental Hotels & Resorts, the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts, etc. The Complainant offers a program known as the IHG Army Hotels, which provides reasonably priced hotel rooms on 41 military installations across the United States of America ("USA") to members of the military, and their families and guests. The Complainant owns at least 117 trade mark registrations consisting of or containing its IHG trade mark, including registrations in the USA and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ("UK").
The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name on April 14, 2010. The Respondent is in the business of registering and holding domain names.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant's contentions can be summarized as follows:
(a) The Complainant owns at least 117 trade mark registrations incorporating its IHG trade mark, including a USA registration for the IHG trade mark dated December 9, 2008 and a UK registration for the IHG trade mark dated October 27, 2006. The Complainant also registered the domain name <ihgarmyhotels.com> on April 13, 2007. The Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's IHG trade mark, as it incorporates the IHG trade mark in its entirety. The descriptive words "army" and "hotel" do nothing to dispel the confusing similarity, and actually enhance the potential confusion as they describe the Complainant's services.
(b) The Complainant has never authorized the Respondent to register or use its IHG trade mark in any manner. To the Complainant's knowledge, the Respondent is not commonly known by the Disputed Domain Name and has never acquired any trade mark rights in the Disputed Domain Name. The Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name to resolve to a parking page that includes links to third party websites offering services which compete with the Complainant (e.g., links to hotels or hotel-related services). This therefore cannot amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services. By using the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a monetized parking page, the Respondent is precluded from establish that it has been making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name.
(c) The Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its IHG trade mark due to the similarity between the Disputed Domain Name and the Complainant's domain name <ihgarmyhotels.com>; the well-known status of the Complainant; and the fact that the Disputed Domain Name was registered after the Complainant first registered and began using its IHG trade mark. The Respondent's registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a monetized parking page, which includes links to competitors of the Complainant, amounts to bad faith. Further, the Respondent has attempted to sell the Disputed Domain Name for USD 1,350, which exceeds the Respondent's out-of-pocket costs directly related to the Disputed Domain Name.
In the Response, the Respondent agreed to the transfer of the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant, and requested that the Panel order the transfer without considering the three elements under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
6. Discussion and Findings
The Respondent has consented to and requests the transfer of the Disputed Domain Name to the Complainant. The Complainant requests the Panel to disregard the Respondent's request and instead to issue a decision discussing the merits of this case and ordering that the Disputed Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant.
In The Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. Mike Morgan, WIPO Case No. D2005-1132, it was held that:
"a genuine unilateral consent to transfer by the Respondent provides a basis for an immediate order for transfer without consideration of the paragraph 4(a) elements. Where the Complainant has sought transfer of a disputed domain name, and the Respondent consents to transfer, then pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules the Panel can proceed immediately to make an order for transfer. This is clearly the most expeditious course (see Williams-Sonoma, Inc. v. EZ-Port, WIPO Case No. D2000-0207)."
The Panel also refers to 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. I am left to decide the appropriate procedure to conclude the case in a situation not directly addressed by the Rules. Several provisions provide guidance. Rule 10(a) gives the panel the discretion to conduct the proceeding in such manner as it deems appropriate under the Policy and the Rules. Rule 10(c) requires the Panel to "ensure that the proceeding takes place with due expedition." Rule 12 permits the Panel to require further statements from the parties. Rule 17 requires the Panel to terminate the proceeding when the parties have agreed to a settlement."
In light of the above, the Panel has decided to issue an order for the transfer of the Disputed Domain Name pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules, without needing to consider the three elements under paragraph 4(a) 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, <ihgarmyhotel.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: July 6, 2016