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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. Natalia Lenczuk

Case No. D2017-2575

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin of Clermont-Ferrand, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

The Respondent is Natalia Lenczuk of Lublin, Poland.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The Domain Name <michelintour.com> is registered with Tucows Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 22, 2017. On December 22, 2017, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On December 22, 2017, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on December 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 December 29, 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 January 2, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 22, 2018. On January 22, 2018, the Center received an email communication from a third party individual. The Center acknowledged receipt, and indicated that the panel appointment process would commence.

The Center appointed Nicoletta Colombo as the sole panelist in this matter on January 30, 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

Michelin is one of the world’s leading tire companies.

Michelin, with headquarters in France, is present in 170 countries, has 111,700 employees and operates 68 production facilities in 17 countries which together produced 187 million tires in 2016.

Michelin is also present in Poland, where it employs over 4,000 people and uses the website “www.michelin.pl” in Polish.

The Complainant is the owner of the well-known trademark MICHELIN since 1968 and also several domain names including the trademark MICHELIN.

The Domain Name <michelintour.com> has been registered on August 26, 2017 and resolves to a contact form page.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends the following:

a) the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the trademark of the Complainant because:

- it reproduces the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety;

- the addition of the dictionary word “tour” does not prevent any likelihood of confusion;

- the presence of the suffix “.com” is irrelevant when assessing whether a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark as it is a functional element.

b) The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name because:

- the Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant in any way nor has been authorized or licensed by the Complainant to use and registered its trademark or to seek registration of any domain names incorporating its trademark;

- the Respondent has no prior rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name and is neither commonly known by the name Michelin nor by the Domain Name;

- the Domain Name resolves to a default contact from page set up by the hosting provider and the Respondent has not made any reasonable and demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name.

c) The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith because:

- the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s trademark when it registered the Domain Name and, in case it was not aware, a simple search using the keyword “Michelin” before registering the Domain Name would have shown the results related to the Complainant’s products or news;

- the Respondent registered the Domain Name in order to prevent the Complainant from using its trademark in the corresponding domain name;

- the Respondent’s Domain Name is currently inactive, since it resolves to a default contact form page set up by the hosting provider.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has trademark and domain name registrations for MICHELIN in various jurisdictions. Moreover, the trademark MICHELIN can be considered “well-known” as also confirmed by previous UDRP panels. Therefore, it has been proven that the Complainant has rights in the MICHELIN trademark.

The Domain Name <michelintour.com> incorporates the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety. There are several UDRP decisions stating that confusing similarity, for the purposes of the Policy, is established when a domain name wholly incorporates a complainant’s mark.

The presence of the dictionary term “tour” does not mitigate any likelihood of confusion.

Additionally, the Panel does not typically consider, when analyzing the identity or similarity, the generic Top-Level Domain suffix – in this case “.com” – because it is a necessary component of the Domain Name and does not give any distinctiveness (see, Crédit Industriel et Commercial S.A v. Name Privacy, WIPO Case No. D2005-0457).

Therefore, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent has not filed any response in this case. (However, a third party indicated by email on January 22, 2018 that it provides administrative and technical services for the Respondent but “is not by any means holder or listed registrant” of the Domain Name.)

The Panel finds that, based on the evidence provided, the Complainant has made a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.

Specifically, on the basis of the evidence before the Panel, the Respondent has not received any license or authorization from the Complainant to use the well-known trademarks owned by the Complainant, nor has the Respondent been authorized to register and use the Domain Name.

Moreover, the Domain Name resolves to a default contact form page set up by the hosting provider with the evident consequence that the Respondent has not made any reasonable and demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name.

Under these circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

At the moment of the registration of the Domain Name, the Respondent must have been aware of the existence of the MICHELIN mark which is not a common word and, on the contrary is a well-known trademark. In particular, the Complainant is present in Poland (where the Respondent comes from and is based) with a factory, and also the Complainant uses the website that can be accessed by the domain name <michelin.pl>. It is thus quite likely that the Respondent knew the Complainant’s trademark when registering the Domain Name.

One arrives at the same conclusion if it is considered that the Respondent added to the well-known trademark owned by the Complainant the word “tour” which refers also to part of the business of the Complainant, which is famous also for its tour guides.

The Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name with the intent to profit from the reputation of the Complainant’s trademark by choosing a domain name that is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark.

Moreover, the Internet users who were looking for the Complainant would be resolved to a default contact form page set up by the hosting provider, which may increase the confusion of visitors to the Domain Name website, and does not prevent a finding of use in bad faith.

Taken together with the fact that the Respondent has not filed any response in this proceeding in support of any good faith registration or use and after receiving the cease-and-desist letter from the Complainant hid its personal data from the public, the Panel believes that the Complainant has demonstrated that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

7. Decision

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 <michelintour.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Nicoletta Colombo
Sole Panelist
Date: February 7, 2018