WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. Joyce Klabbers, TruckParts1919.com BV
Case No. D2018-0911
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin of Clermont-Ferrand, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Joyce Klabbers, TruckParts1919.com BV of Vuren, Netherlands.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <michelindoll.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 April 24, 2018. On April 24, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 25, 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 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 April 27, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 17, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent's default on May 18, 2018.
The Center appointed Dietrich Beier as the sole panelist in this matter on May 23, 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, with origins in the 19th century, is a leading tire company, but active also in other areas like publishing travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases to mention only a few. The Complainant headquartered in France is present in more than 170 countries, has 112,300 employees and operates 68 production plants in 17 different countries. The Complainant created in 1898 a mascot, called Bibendum in France, commonly known as the Michelin Man, which is the symbol of the Complainant's company.
After having noticed the disputed domain name which was registered on February 22, 2017, the Complainant sent a cease and desist letter to the Respondent. The Respondent replied that he is intending to use the disputed domain name to sell official "Michelin Man" products and requested EUR 3,500 for the amicable transfer of the disputed domain name as a compensation for the registration of the disputed domain name and the work from their marketing and IT department on the promotional activities / plan.
As no amicable settlement could be found, the Complainant initiated this procedure against the Respondent in order to obtain the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Complainant is the proprietor of several trademarks for Michelin, inter alia International registration 348615 for MICHELIN registered on July 24, 1968 designating several countries, among them the Benelux. A website under the disputed domain is not active, but is linked to a default page of a hosting provider.
5. Parties' Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is in view of the descriptive meaning of the element "doll" identical or confusingly similar to its widely known MICHELIN trademarks and that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Furthermore, the Complainant states that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith, as the Respondent could not ignore the Complainant and its well-known trademark. The Complainant also argues that the Respondent uses the disputed domain name in bad faith. By offering the disputed domain name for sale, the Respondent showed his clear intention to obtain commercial gain with it.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to succeed in its claim, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established the fact that it has valid trademark rights for MICHELIN in several classes.
The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant's MICHELIN trademark since it is reproduced in the disputed domain name, whereas it is acknowledged that the generic Top-Level Domain ("gTLD") ".com" does not generally have a relevant influence on the confusing similarity of a trademark and a domain name. Furthermore, the addition of "doll" in the disputed domain name is of a purely descriptive nature and does not change the overall impression being created by the dominating element "Michelin" being used identically.
The Panel therefore considers the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the MICHELIN trademarks, in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There are no indications that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as a licensee of the Complainant or that the Complainant has granted the Respondent any permission or has given its consent to use its trademarks. Furthermore, the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, as there is no indication that the Respondent is commonly known by the name "Michelindoll" or that the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services or making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
In the view of the Panel, the Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its well-known trademarks, when registering the disputed domain name, being the Complainant's trademark entirely reproduced in the disputed domain name. The Complainant has not authorized the Respondent to make use of its trademarks. From the record, the Panel does not see any conceivable legitimate use being made by the Respondent of the disputed domain name. The mere registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a famous or widely-known trademark by an unaffiliated entity can by itself creates a presumption of bad faith. This was already correctly decided, and this Panel agrees to it, for the present MICHELIN trademarks (e.g. Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Michelin v. Shuitu Chen, WIPO Case No. D2016-1924).
Furthermore, the offer to sell the disputed domain name for EUR 3,500 is a possible indication that the Respondent has registered the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling it to the Complainant who is the owner of the trademark for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent's documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name.
In addition, it is the consensus view of previous UDRP panels following the decision Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003, that the apparent lack of active use of the disputed domain name does not as such prevent a finding of bad faith. Examples of what may be cumulative circumstances found to be indicative of bad faith include, not exhaustive, no response to the complaint having been filed and the complainant's trademark having a strong reputation and being widely known, as is the case here.
The Panel therefore considers the disputed domain name to have been registered and used in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.
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 <michelindoll.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: May 30, 2018