WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Groupe Go Sport v. Vietnam Domain Privacy Services / To Thi Thanh Tam
Case No. D2016-1637
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Groupe Go Sport of Sassenage, France, represented by AARPI Clairmont Avocats, France.
The Respondents are Vietnam Domain Privacy Services of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam and To Thi Thanh Tam of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <courrir.com> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with April Sea Information Technology Corporation (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 11, 2016, naming the Respondent as Vietnam Domain Privacy Services. The Center sent its verification request to the Registrar on August 12, 2016. The Registrar replied on August 22, 2016, stating that it has received a copy of the Complaint, that the Domain Name is registered with it, that the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”) applies, that the Domain Name was registered or acquired by the current registrant on January 16, 2004 and will expire on January 16, 2017, that a lock of the Domain Name has been applied and will remain in force during this proceeding, and that the language of the registration agreement is English. The Registrar’s response also stated that the Respondent is the current registrant of the Domain Name, but provided the full contact details held on its WhoIs database in respect of the Domain Name, which identified To Thi Thanh Tam of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam as the registrant.
The Center informed the Complainant on August 22, 2016, of the identity of the registrant as disclosed by the Registrar and invited the Complainant to submit an amended Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on August 25, 2016.
The Center verified that the amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the 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 paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Rules, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on August 26, 2016. In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Rules, the due date for Response was September 15, 2016. The Respondent did not submit any response by this date. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on September 16, 2016. The Respondent sent emails to the Center on September 16, 2016 and on September 17, 2016, which he asked to be treated as his response to the Complaint.
The Center appointed Jonathan Turner as the sole panelist in this matter on September 28, 2016. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with paragraph 7 of the Rules. Having reviewed the file the Panel is satisfied that the Complaint complied with applicable formal requirements, was duly notified to the Respondent and has been submitted to a properly constituted Panel in accordance with the UDRP, the Rules and the Supplemental Rules.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a retailer of sports and leisure goods. Under its COURIR brand, established in 1980, it now operates 174 individual stores and 23 affiliated stores in metropolitan France and 11 master franchises in Morocco; the Ivory Coast; Reunion Island, France; Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates; Egypt; Israel; Kuwait; and Saudi Arabia. It has operated a website for its business under the COURIR brand at “www.courir.com” since 1998.
The Complainant has registered COURIR as a trademark in France (filed on March 26, 1990 and June 22, 2006) and internationally (registered on September 25, 2007). It has also registered a logo containing COURIR in the European Union (filed on April 4, 2008) and a further logo containing COURIR in France (filed on May 4, 2010) and internationally (registered on July 9, 2014).
The Domain Name is directed to a web page displaying sponsored links to various websites offering shoes, some of which directly compete with the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the mark COURIR in which it has rights. The Complainant points out that the Domain Name contains the full COURIR mark with an additional letter “r” and has visual and phonetic similarities with this mark. The Complainant also draws attention to the similarity of the Domain Name and that used by the Complainant for its own website.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. It states that to the Complainant’s best knowledge, the Respondent is not and never has been known under the name COURIR, that the Respondent has not filed any similar trademarks in Viet Nam, that the Respondent does not conduct any business with the Complainant, and that the Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to register or use the Domain Name. The Complainant adds that the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name cannot constitute a bona fide offering of services within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the UDRP.
The Complainant alleges that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. According to the Complainant it is unlikely that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant’s COURIR mark in view of its strong reputation and leading position in the field of sports and leisure goods, as well as the Complainant’s longstanding international registration of this mark. The Complainant describes the Respondent’s registration and use of the Domain Name as “typosquatting”. The Complainant draws attention to the use of the Domain Name to locate a web page with sponsored links to offers by its competitors, thereby diverting clients from the Complainant and causing the Complainant commercial detriment. The Complainant points out that the use of a domain name intentionally to attract Internet users to a website for commercial gain in an effort to trade on the Complainant’s reputation is evidence of bad faith registration and use.
The Complainant requests a decision that the Domain Name be transferred to it.
As stated above, the Respondent did not submit a Response within the time specified in the Rules. However, on the day after the expiry of the time limit, the Respondent, To Thi Thanh Tam, sent an email to the Center, arguing that the Domain Name is completely generic and simply means “to run”. The Respondent claims that he owns the Domain Name for that purpose only and that the Complainant is “reverse cybersquatting” on a domain name that has been registered for more than a decade. He denies bad faith and says he has never heard of the Complainant or done business with it. He asks that this email be taken as his Response since he cannot afford an attorney’s fee.
In a further email the following day, the Respondent states that he intended to send the Response before the deadline but something came up suddenly and he had to be away for a few days where Internet access was limited. He claims that he tried to send the previous email but it did not go through until his return. He asks that his previous email be accepted as his Response even though it was a day late.
Since this “Response” was only one day late, the Panel exercises its discretion to waive the noncompliance with the time limit and to accept the Respondent’s email of September 16, 2016 as his Response. However, the Panel notes that it does not comply with requirements of the Rules for a response, in particular in that it lacks a signed certification as specified in paragraph 5(b)(viii) and does not annex any documentary evidence in accordance with paragraph 5(b)(ix). The Panel takes this noncompliance into account in assessing the reliability of the statements made in the Respondent’s email.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove: (i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which it has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and (iii) that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. It is appropriate to consider each of these requirements in turn.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the mark COURIR.
The Panel considers that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to this mark, from which it differs only in the addition of a letter “r” and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix “.com”. As has been observed in many other cases, the gTLD suffix can be generally discounted in assessing the likelihood of confusion. As to the additional letter “r”, Internet users could readily be confused through misspelling or mistyping and it is insufficient to distinguish the Domain Name from the Complainant’s mark.
The first requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel does not regard the use made by the Respondent for a web page containing sponsored links to various websites offering shoes, including some that compete with the Complainant, as a bona fide offering of goods or services. On the contrary, and as discussed further below, it is a use in bad faith, seeking to divert Internet users, attracted to the Respondent’s web page through confusion with the Complainant’s mark, to websites of the Complainant’s competitors, for commercial gain in the form of click-through commissions.
It is evident that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name or any corresponding name, and the Respondent does not suggest otherwise. It is also clear that the Respondent is not engaging in noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name.
On the evidence, there is no other basis on which the Respondent could claim any right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name. The Panel finds that he has no such right or legitimate interest. The second requirement of the UDRP is satisfied.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
On the evidence, the Panel finds that, by using the Domain Name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to his web page for commercial gain, in the form of click-through commissions on sponsored links, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source of this web page.
In accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the UDRP, this constitutes evidence of registration and use of the Domain Name in bad faith. This presumption is not displaced by contrary evidence. The Panel does not accept the Respondent’s explanation that his only purpose is to reflect the generic word “courir”, meaning “to run”. This explanation is contradicted first by the misspelling of this word in the Domain Name and secondly by the use of the Domain Name for a web page containing sponsored links to websites of the Complainant’s competitors.
The Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. All three requirements of the UDRP are satisfied and it is appropriate to direct that the Domain Name be transferred to the Complainant.
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, <courrir.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 11, 2016