WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Accor, SoLuxury HMC v. Guojing Lan

Case No. D2016-1242

1. The Parties

Complainants are Accor and SoLuxury HMC of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

Respondent is Guojing Lan of Shanghai, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <wandasofitel.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 June 20, 2016. On June 20, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 21, 2016, 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 proceedings commenced on June 23, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 13, 2016. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on July 14, 2016.

The Center appointed Martin Schwimmer as the sole panelist in this matter on July 18, 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. Due to circumstances outside the Panel’s control, it was necessary to extend the decision due date.

4. Factual Background

Complainants operate the SOFITEL chain of hotels worldwide. They operate the SOFITEL WANDA BEIJING, SOFITELA HARBIN and SOFITEL WANDA NINGBO hotels in China. Respondent is utilizing the Domain Name to operate what appears to be a hotel booking site that duplicates the appearance of Complainants’ own site.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complaints documented ownership of several international trademarks designating China, covering the SOFITEL trademark and SOFITEL stylized trademark, covering, in part, hotel services. As state above, Complainants operate the SOFITEL WANDA BEIJING, SOFITELA HARBIN and SOFITEL WANDA NINGBO hotels in China.

The SOFITEL trademark has been found to be famous by previous Panels. For example see Accor, SoLuxury HMC v. Giovanni Laporta, Yoyo.Email, WIPO Case No. D2014-1650. Complainants allege that the term “wanda” is generic.

Respondent has no authorized relationship with Complainants. He used the disputed domain name to direct towards a webpage which imitates Complainants’ official webpage in Chinese.

Respondent has previously registered domain names reflecting Complainants’ SOFITEL trademark.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

Complainants easily establish rights in the SOFITEL trademark. Prior panels have found that the SOFITEL mark is famous (see, e.g., Accor, SoLuxury HMC v. Giovanni Laporta, Yoyo.Email, WIPO Case No. D2014-1650; Accor, SoLuxury HMC v. Zeng Zheng, WIPO Case No. D2013-1541; Accor, SoLuxury HMC v. Yin Wei Fen, WIPO Case No. D2012-0553; Accor and SoLuxury HMC v. “m on”, WIPO Case No. D2012-2262).

Complainant did not document and the Panel cannot confim the allegation that the term “wanda” is generic in this context; It appears to be a Chinese word roughly translating as “grandeur”. However the Panel independently notes that the SOFITEL WANDA BEIJING, SOFITEL WANDA HARBIN and SOFITEL WANDA NINGBO hotels in China, are reported to be joint ventures between Complainants and the WANDA Group. While it is not clear precisely what rights Complainants may have in the “wanda” term as a result of this joint venture, Complainant has clearly documented its use of the SOFITEL WANDA term.

Accordingly, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark because the disputed domain name incorporates Complainant’ SOFITEL mark in its entirety, and while the “wanda” term can or cannot be viewed as a term that might be used under license by Complainants, in any event the “wanda” element reinforces the effect of the domain name to refer to Complainants.

Consequently, the Panel finds that Complainants have met the first element of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The second ground to be demonstrated by Complainants, according to the provisions of the Policy, is Respondent’s absence of any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, per paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

Previous UDRP panels have consistently held that it is sufficient for a complainant to prove a prima facie case that the respondent does not hold rights or legitimate interests in the domain name (see Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455 and Belupo d.d. v. WACHEM d.o.o., WIPO Case No. D2004-0110). Once a prima facie case is shown, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel is satisfied that Respondent has no connection or affiliation with Complainants and has not received any license or consent to use the trademark in a domain name or in any other manner. Complainants allege that there is no such connection here. Respondent’s homepage shows a slavish imitation of Complainants’ home page such that it is clear that Respondent seeks to pass itself off as Complainants.

Therefore, in light of Complainants’ unrebutted prima facie case, the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Many prior panels have found that Complainants have established that its SOFITEL trademark is well known, as a result of years of extensive use of the mark. As noted above, it is unclear what rights Complainant may have as a result of its joint venture with the Wanda Group, however in view of Complainants’ operation of the SOFITEL WANDA hotels in China, the fact that Respondent’s website mimics the appearance of Complainants’ website, and the fact that this Respondent has registered other SOFITEL-variant domain names, it is beyond doubt that Respondent targeted Complainants in bad faith. Where a domain name is so obviously connected with a well-known trademark, its very use by someone with no connection to the trademark suggests opportunistic bad faith (see, e.g., LEGO Juris A/S v. store24hour; WIPO Case No. D2013-0091; Lancôme parfums et Beauté & Cie, L’Oréal v 10 Selling, WIPO Case No. D2008-0226).

Additionally, the Panel may make negative inferences based on Respondent’s failure to respond to Complainant’s contentions. .

In view of the above it is the Panel’s holding that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

7. Decision

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 <wandasofitel.com> be transferred to the Complainants.

Martin Schwimmer
Sole Panelist
Date: August 22, 2016