WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Air France v. Naveen Sehgal, Nishant Sehgal Designs Pvt Ltd
Case No. D2016-2192
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Société Air France of Paris, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.
The Respondent is Naveen Sehgal, Nishant Sehgal Designs Pvt Ltd of Faridabad, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <airfrancecheckin.info> 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 October 28, 2016. On October 28, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On October 29, 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 November 7, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 27, 2016. The Respondent sent email communications to the Center on November 9, 10 and 17, 2016. The Center notified the parties about the commencement of panel appointment process on November 28, 2016. The Respondent made further submission on November 30, 2016, reiterating its intention to transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant.
The Center appointed Emre Kerim Yardimci as the sole panelist in this matter on December 12, 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 French airline and freight company established on October 7, 1933 and serves 231 cities in 103 countries with 1,500 flights every day.
The Complainant owns multiple national, international and/or regional trademark registrations AIR FRANCE including the followings:
-AIR FRANCE Internationl Registration No. 828334 registered in 2003 covering the classes 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45;
- AIR FRANCE Registration No.1276424 registered in 2014 for the classes 35, 38 and 39 in India where the Respondent is domiciled.
The Complainant's AIR FRANCE trademark has been recognized as a well-knowntrademark in previous UDRP decisions.
The Complainant owns and operates the domain name <airfrance.com> since 2004 and is the owner of the following domain names which have been directed to its main domain name <airfrance.com>:
The disputed domain name was registered on January 15, 2016 in the name of the Respondent.
The Panel visited the disputed domain name on December 26, 2016, and observed that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active website.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's recognized and reputed AIR FRANCE trademark, since it includes the trademark AIR FRANCE and adds the word "check in" which refers to the sphere of airline travel in which the Complainant operates.
The Complainant claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name since
- the Respondent is not affiliated and/or related with the Complainant in any manner;
- the Respondent is not and has never been known by the name "AIR FRANCE";
- no license or authorization has been granted to the Respondent to make any use or apply for the disputed domain name.
Moreover, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name has been registered and used in bad faith since
- the Complainant's trademark has a strong reputation and widely known through the world for a long time;
- in view of previous similar UDRP cases, the Respondent could not have ignored AIR FRANCE's international reputation at the time it registered the disputed domain name; and
- the Respondent is also the registrant of the following domain names composed in the same way targeting competing airlines and registered at the same date with the disputed domain name:
In addition to bad faith registration, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent uses the disputed domain name in bad faith since the disputed domain name resolves to a "403 Error" page which means that the disputed domain name is inactive.
The Respondent did not formally reply to the Complainant's contentions.
However, the Panel notes that the Respondent requested that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant in its email communications to the Center. The Respondent did not accept the conditions and claims requested by the Complainant for the suspension of proceedings and the withdrawal of the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Effect of the unilateral consent to transfer by the Respondent
The Panel must decide whether to grant a "unilateral transfer" as requested by the Respondent.
Several prior UDRP decisions show that it is the panel's discretion to issue a transfer when the respondent has given its unilateral and unambiguous consent to transfer, or to address the conditions for transfer under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy. See, e.g., Vienna Beef Ltd. v. Texas International Property Associates, WIPO Case No. D2007-1133 (where there is a finding that a full discussion of the merits was appropriate despite the respondent's alleged willingness to unilaterally transfer the domain name).
Although the Panel has the authority to order a transfer based on the Respondent's consent without further analysis, the Panel considers it appropriate in the circumstances of this case, absent a signed stipulation between the parties or a withdrawal of the Complaint, to proceed to consider the merits of the case.
6.2. Substantive Issues
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy requires the Complainant to show that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights.
A registered trademark provides a clear indication that the rights in the mark shown on the trademark certificate belong to its respective owner. As indicated above, "AIR FRANCE" is the distinctive part of the Complainant's trade name since 1933 and the Complainant holds multiple registrations for AIR FRANCE.
The disputed domain name <airfrancecheckin.info> integrates the Complainant's AIR FRANCE trademark as a dominant element and adds the" word "check in" which is descriptive with respect to the air travel services provided by the Complainant. As regards the generic Top-Level Domain ".info", it is typically disregarded under the confusing similarity test.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the Complainant has shown that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights and satisfied the requirement under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made a prima facie showing of a lack of the Respondent's rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent made no effort to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. On the contrary, the Respondent has expressed its consent to transfer the disputed domain name to the Complainant. Accordingly, the Panel determines the Complainant has sufficiently demonstrated that the Respondent lacks any rights or legitimate interests in disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel accepts the Complainant's contention that the trademark AIR FRANCE is a well-known trademark. The incorporation of a well-known trademark into a domain name by a registrant having no plausible explanation for doing so may be, in and of itself, an indication of bad faith (Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondée en 1772 v. The Polygenix Group Co., WIPO Case No. D2000-0163; General Electric Company v. CPIC NET and Hussain Syed, WIPO Case No. D2001-0087; Microsoft Corporation v. Montrose Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2000-1568).
The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name but has not put it to any material use. Thus the Respondent is holding the disputed domain name passively. It has long been generally held in UDRP decisions that the passive holding of a domain name that incorporates a well-known trademark, without any actual or contemplated good faith use for an Internet purpose, does not necessarily circumvent a finding that the domain name is in use within the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy (Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003).
Therefore, in the view of cumulative circumstances, the Panel finds that the requirement of registration and use in bad faith is satisfied, according to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
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, <airfrancecheckin.info>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Emre Kerim Yardimci
Date: December 26, 2016