WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc v. Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. / Milen Radumilo
Case No. D2017-0336
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc of Ivry-sur-Seine, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.
The Respondent is Whois Agent, Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc. of Kirkland, Washington, United States of America (“United States”) / Milen Radumilo of Bucharest, Romania.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <e-leclercdrive.com> is registered with eNom, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on February 21, 2017. On February 21, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On February 21, 2017, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on February 27, 2017 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on February 27, 2017.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended 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 March 1, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 21, 2017. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on March 23, 2017.
The Center appointed Knud Wallberg as the sole panelist in this matter on March 31, 2017. 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 association which owns several trademarks containing the term LECLERC including European Union Trade Mark registration No. 002700664 E LECLERC, registered on January 31, 2005, and an international trademark registration under the Madrid System No. 1052904 E.LECLERC DRIVE registered on July 20, 2010, covering Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.
The Complainant uses its trademarks in connection with a chain of supermarket and hypermarket stores located throughout France and other countries in Europe. The Complainant also offers mobile telephone services to consumers in France and throughout Europe, and since the Complainant has offered a concept of online business “E.LECLERC Drive” which allows its customers to collect the products previously ordered online in the physical stores.
According to publicly available records, and as confirmed by the Registrar, the disputed domain name <e-leclercdrive.com> was registered on December 1, 2016. The disputed domain name resolves to a parking page displaying pay-per-click links to the Complainant and competitors of the Complainant.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the wordmark E LECLERC and to the figurative mark E.LECLERC DRIVE, in which the Complainant has rights, as it reproduces identically the Complainant’s trademark E LECLERC in association with the term “drive”. According to the Complainant, the presence of the term “drive” in the disputed domain name enhances the risk of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark for consumers and leads them to believe that the disputed domain name is linked or affiliated with the Complainant.
The Complainant further states that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Respondent has thus not been licensed or has received any other authorization from the Complainant to register the disputed domain name, nor has the Respondent any independent trademark rights or other rights to the denomination E. LECLERC DRIVE.
Finally, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. The disputed domain name was registered anonymously and is used for a parking page with listed sponsored and related links to the Complainant’s official website as well as to websites of competitors of the Complainant. In addition, the disputed domain name is listed for sale via the Sedo website.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules the Panel shall decide the Complaint in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that a complainant must prove each of the following:
(i) that the domain name registered by the respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights;
(ii) that the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy states that the burden of proving that all these elements are present lies with the Complainant. At the same time, in accordance with paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, if a party, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, does not comply with any provision of, or requirement under, the Rules, or any request from the Panel, the Panel shall draw such inferences therefrom as it considers appropriate.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <e-leclercdrive.com> is confusingly similar (in the sense of the Policy) to the Complainant’s registered trademark E.LECLERC DRIVE since it incorporates all the word elements of the said registration. The generic Top-Level Domain “.com” does not dispel a finding of confusing similarity in the present case.
The Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy are therefore fulfilled in relation to the disputed domain name.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
It is clear from the facts of the case that the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its trademark.
Given the circumstances of this case, and in particular the way that the Respondent has been and is using the disputed domain name the Panel finds that the Complainant has established that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Respondent has not produced, and indeed there is no other evidence of the types of circumstances set out in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy that might give rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name on the part of the Respondent in these proceedings.
Consequently, the Panel finds that the conditions in paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy are also fulfilled.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires the Complainant to prove both registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides an example of circumstances which shall be evidence of registration and use in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that the Respondent has registered or has acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the Respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the Respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location.
Accordingly, for the Complainant to succeed, the Panel must be satisfied that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Given the circumstances of the case and in particular the evidence on record of the longstanding of use of the Complainant’s trademark, and the distinctive nature of the mark, it is inconceivable to the Panel in the current circumstances that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name without prior knowledge of the Complainant and the Complainant’s mark. Further, the Panel finds that the Respondent could not have been unaware of the fact that it chose a domain name which could attract Internet users in a manner that is likely to create confusion for such users.
The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.
Also, the Respondent is at present using the disputed domain name actively for a standardized parking page that contains links to the Complainant’s official website as well as to websites of competitors of the Complainant. Further, on the current setup of the website the disputed domain name is advertised as being for sale. It is thus obvious to the Panel that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith by intentionally attempting to attract, for commercial gain, web users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of its website, and by putting it up for sale.
Noting that the disputed domain name incorporates a registered and distinctive trademark, that there appears to be no conceivable good faith use that could be made by the Respondent of the disputed domain name, that the disputed domain name is offered for sale and considering all the facts and evidence, the Panel therefore finds that the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(iii) and 4(b) of the Policy are also fulfilled in this case.
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 <e-leclercdrive.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: April 12, 2017