WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Caesars License Company, LLC v. Anvar Sharapov
Case No. D2017-2407
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Caesars License Company, LLC of Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America ("United States"), represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, United States.
The Respondent is Anvar Sharapov of Denia, Spain.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hotelcaesarsjavea.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 December 5, 2017. On December 6, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 7, 2018, 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 Complainant filed an amended Complaint on December 13, 2018.
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 December 14, 2017. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 3, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on January 9, 2018.
The Center appointed Steven A. Maier as the sole panelist in this matter on January 22, 2018. 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 located and doing business in Las Vegas, United States. It is itself or through affiliated companies the owner of various trademark registrations, including the following:
- United States trademark number 0954684 for the word mark CAESARS, registered on March 6, 1973 in class 41;
- United States trademark number 4234164 for the figurative trademark shown below (the "Roman Head Mark"), registered on October 30, 2012 in class 41;
- European Union Trade Mark number 000154955 for the word mark CAESARS, registered on December 7, 2005 in classes 25, 41 and 42 for goods and services including hotels;
- European Union Trade Mark number 009048935 for the Roman Head Mark, registered on October 12, 2010 in classes 28, 41 and 43 for goods and services including hotel services.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 30, 2016.
According to evidence submitted by the Complainant, the disputed domain name has resolved to a website at "www.hotelcaesarsjavea.com" which purports to promote a boutique hotel in Javea, Spain. The website is headed "Caesars Hotel" in conjunction with an image that is virtually identical to the Roman Head Mark, but with the direction of the head reversed. The website includes numerous paragraphs of text about the hotel and details of its rooms, including photographs. It also includes an email address and telephone number for contact.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant states that it is the operator through affiliated companies of the "Caesars Palace" casino in Las Vegas, which it submits is world-famous, together with other CAESARS branded casinos elsewhere in the United States, Canada and Egypt. The Complainant states that approximately 1.5 million people stay at Caesar's Palace every year and provides details of its substantial facilities and entertainment services. The Complainant states that it has spent millions of dollars in promoting its hotel, casinos and brand.
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which it has rights. It states that the disputed domain name comprises the terms "hotel", "caesars" and "javea", which incorporates the whole of Complainant's mark CAESARS together with a generic term and a geographical designator. The Complainant says that these additions are insufficient to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant's trademark.
The Complainant submits that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. The Complainant states that it has never licensed or authorized the Respondent to use its trademark CAESARS, that the Respondent has no independent trademark rights in that name and that the Respondent has not commonly been known by a name that corresponds to the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Complainant contends that the Respondent's website does not indicate any bona fide offering of goods and services because it is in fact a fraudulent venture. The Complainant says that there is no "Caesars Hotel" in the town of Javea, nor any physical business located at the address provided by the Respondent. The Complainant exhibits a report from a private investigator, concluding that the hotel does not exist and that neither the hotel nor any plans to build any such hotel are known of locally. The contact telephone number given of the Respondent's website is also found to be false.
The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. Referring to the facts set out above, the Complainant says that it is obvious the Respondent had knowledge of the Complainant's trademarks at the date of registration of the disputed domain name and that the Respondent's specific intention was to impersonate the Complainant. The Complainant points out that the disputed domain name is being used to direct consumers to a fake website which prominently displays the Complainant's trademarks and which is most probably being used to defraud customers. The Complainant submits that, among other matters, this amounts to disrupting the Complainant's business for the purposes of paragraph 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.
The Complainant also submits that the Respondent has provided false contact details in connection with the registration of the disputed domain name, given that there is no "Ceasars Hotel" or any other business at the address stated. The Complainant also exhibits letters sent by its counsel to the Respondent in March and September of 2017. The Complainant says that the September letter followed from a telephone conversation in which the Respondent stated that he intended to build a hotel and that he had received a permit to do so. The September letter stated that the Complainant's investigations had found no evidence of any such plans or a permit and demanded the Respondent's final response by September 29, 2017, which was not received.
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed in the Complaint, the Complainant is required to show that all three of the elements set out under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are present. Those elements are:
(i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Even in a case such as this where the Respondent has failed to participate, the Complainant must nevertheless demonstrate that each of the above elements is present.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established that it has longstanding registered trademark rights for the mark CAESARS in connection with hotel and related services. The disputed domain name comprises three elements: "hotel", which is a dictionary term, "caesars" which is identical to the Complainant's trademark and "javea" which is a geographical indicator. The Panel does not consider that either of the essentially descriptive terms "hotel" or "javea" is effective to distinguish the disputed domain name from the Complainant's CAESARS trademark and therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
In the view of the Panel, the Complainant's submissions set out above give rise to a prima facie case for the Respondent to answer that it has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. However, the Respondent has not participated in this proceeding and has not, therefore, submitted any explanation for its registration and use of the disputed domain name, or evidence of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, whether in the circumstances contemplated by paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise.
The Complainant has submitted, and has provided evidence in support of the submission, that the Respondent is operating a fake website which impersonates the Complainant. The Panel finds this to be the case, noting in particular the Respondent's use of the Complainant's Roman Head Mark in conjunction with the name "Caesars Hotel". The Panel finds on the available evidence that the hotel promoted on the Respondent's website does not exist, and while noting that the Respondent claimed on the telephone that he planned to build a hotel, this does not explain the inclusion of photographs and other information on the Respondent's website, clearly suggesting that the hotel was already in operation.
The Panel finds in all the circumstances that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the light of the Respondent's use of the name "Caesar's Hotel" in conjunction with a design almost identical to the Roman Head Mark, the Panel infers that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name in the knowledge of the Complainant's trademarks CAESARS and the Roman Head Mark and with the intention of taking unfair advantage of those trademarks.
The Panel also finds that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in bad faith, namely, for the purposes of a website which calls to mind an official website of the Complainant and which purports to promote a hotel that does not exist. The Panel finds that the Respondent's website amounts to an impersonation of the Complainant and is unable in all the circumstances to discern any honest or legitimate intention behind the registration and use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds 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, <hotelcaesarsjavea.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Steven A. Maier
Date: February 5, 2018