WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
JD Sports Fashion PLC v. li guoning
Case No. D2016-1283
1. The Parties
The Complainant is JD Sports Fashion PLC of Bury, Lancashire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“United Kingdom” or “UK”), represented by Urquhart-Dykes & Lord, United Kingdom.
The Respondent is li guoning of Changsha, Hunan, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <jdsports-fr.com> is registered with Beijing Innovative Linkage Technology Ltd. dba dns.com.cn (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint in English was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 24, 2016. On June 24, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 27, 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.
On June 28, 2016, the Center sent an email communication to the parties in both Chinese and English regarding the language of the proceeding. On June 30, 2016, the Complainant confirmed its request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.
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 in both Chinese and English, and the proceeding commenced on July 11, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 31, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 1, 2016.
The Center appointed Sebastian M.W. Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on August 9, 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 a company incorporated in the United Kingdom and the owner of several registrations for the trade mark JD SPORTS (the “Trade Mark”), including European registration No. 008182611 with a filing date of March 29, 2009, and registered on December 13, 2011. The Complainant uses the Trade Mark in relation to its business as a multi-channel retailer of sports fashion wear and outdoor brands in the United Kingdom, Europe and Malaysia, both via bricks and mortar retail stores, and online.
The Respondent is apparently an individual located in China.
C. The Disputed Domain Name
The disputed domain name was registered on May 31, 2016.
D. The Website at the Disputed Domain Name
The disputed domain name is resolved to a website (the “Respondent’s Website”) which offers for sale sports footwear, bearing third party trade marks, in direct competition with the websites operated by the Complainant under the Trade Mark.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar or identical to the Trade Mark, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1 Language of the Proceeding
The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese. Pursuant to the Rules, paragraph 11, in the absence of an agreement between the parties, or unless specified otherwise in the registration agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the registration agreement. However, paragraph 11(a) of the Rules allows the Panel to determine the language of the proceeding having regard to all the circumstances. In particular, it is established practice to take paragraphs 10(b) and (c) of the Rules into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceeding, in order to ensure fairness to the parties and the maintenance of an inexpensive and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes. Language requirements should not lead to undue burdens being placed on the parties and undue delay to the proceeding.
The Complainant made the following submissions in support of its language request:
(1) The Respondent’s Website appears in a mixture of English and French. The Respondent must, therefore, be capable of communicating in both English and French;
(2) The Complainant is not able to communicate in Chinese and, therefore, if the Complainant were required to submit all documents in Chinese, the administrative proceeding would be unduly delayed and the Complainant would have to incur substantial expenses for translation.
The Respondent having received notice of the proceeding in both Chinese and English did not make any submissions regarding the language of the proceeding and did not file a response.
In exercising its discretion to use a language other than that of the registration agreement, the Panel has to exercise such discretion judicially in the spirit of fairness and justice to both parties, taking into account all relevant circumstances of the case, including matters such as the parties’ ability to understand and use the proposed language, time and costs.
The Panel finds there is sufficient evidence to suggest the likely possibility that the Respondent is conversant in English. In particular, the Panel notes that the Respondent’s Website is available in French and English. The Panel is also mindful of the need to ensure the proceeding is conducted in a timely and cost effective manner.
In all the circumstances, the Panel therefore finds it is not foreseeable that the Respondent would be prejudiced, should English be adopted as the language of the proceeding.
Having considered all the matters above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that the language of the proceeding shall be English.
6.2 Substantive Elements of the Policy
The Complainant must prove each of the three elements in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to prevail.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the Trade Mark acquired through use and registration.
The disputed domain name comprises the Trade Mark in its entirety, together with the geographical acronym “fr” for France or French, which is descriptive of one of the languages used on the Respondent’s Website and, in the Panel’s opinion, heightens the risk of confusion given the Complainant’s long-established trading under the Trade Mark in France.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Marks.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of non-exhaustive circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:
(i) before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the disputed domain name even if the respondent has acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trade mark or service mark at issue.
The Complainant has not authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name or to use the Trade Mark. The Panel finds on the record that there is therefore a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the burden is thus on the Respondent to produce evidence to rebut this presumption.
The Respondent has failed to show that he or she has acquired any trade mark rights in respect of the disputed domain name or that the disputed domain name has been used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. To the contrary, the disputed domain name has been used in respect of the Respondent’s Website, which, without the Complainant’s authorisation, promotes and offers for sale sports footwear products in direct competition with the retail services offered by the Complainant, both online, and via the Complainant’s retail stores.
There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name.
There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In light of the evidence of the Respondent’s use of the Respondent’s Website in the manner described above, the Panel finds the requisite element of bad faith has been satisfied, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 <jdsports-fr.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Sebastian M.W. Hughes
Dated: August 23, 2016