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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center


Société Air France v. Domain Administrator, China Capital

Case No. D2018-1220

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Société Air France of Roissy CDG Cedex, France, represented by MEYER & Partenaires, France.

The Respondent is Domain Administrator, China Capital of Hong Kong, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <airfṛance.com> (xn--airfance-qf0d.com) is registered with TurnCommerce, Inc. DBA NameBright.com (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 31, 2018. On May 31, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same date, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the registrant’s 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 June 7, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 27, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 28, 2018.

The Center appointed Martin Michaus Romero as the sole panelist in this matter on July 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 is a French airline passenger and freight company known as one of the largest in the world. The company was created on October 7, 1933 from the merger of Air Union, Air Orient, Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA), Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Compagnie Générale Aéropostale.

In 1997 it became Société Air France, which has been a member of the SkyTeam Alliance since 2000. In 2003 an alliance was formed between Air France and KLM, which formed Europe’s leading airline group.

In 2015, the Airfrance/KLM Group carried more than 79 million passengers and had a revenue of over EUR 26 billion.

The Complainant is operating an international web portal located at “www.airfrance.com” and has registered or acquired through legal proceedings many generic Top-Level domain names consisting of or incorporating the trademark AIRFRANCE or AIR FRANCE.

The Complainant is the owner of many national, community and international trademarks consisting of or including the wording “AIR FRANCE” or “AIRFRANCE” including for instance, 828334 for AIR FRANCE, registered on October 20, 2003 and renewed through until 2023.

The Complainant is known worldwide through its AIR FRANCE and AIRFRANCE trademarks among others, for airline and freight services.

The disputed domain name was registered on February 20, 2018, long after the AIRFRANCE trademark has been used in commerce and registered in different jurisdictions, and resolved to a parking page with pay-per-click links.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant states in its complaint that the Respondent:

(1) Register the disputed domain name <airfṛance.com> (xn--airfance-qf0d.com) incorporating the well-known AIFRANCE mark without the Complainant’s knowledge or authorization.

(2) Has registered the disputed domain name <airfṛance.com> which included a letter from a non-Latin alphabet; the letter “ṛ” has a dot beneath that makes it almost impossible to distinguish from the Complainant’s official website at “www.airfrance.com”.

(3) Has already been involved as respondent in several UDRP proceedings between 2006 and 2008 were its bad faith registration and use of dozens of domain names was systematically demonstrated.

In its complaint, the Complainant asserts that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its AIRFRANCE trademark. The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which was registered and is used in bad faith.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the Panel is to use in determining the dispute: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.” Considering that the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions, in order to determine whether the Complainant has met its burden as stated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel bases its Decision on the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy and Rules.

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following: (i) that the disputed domain name 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 disputed domain name; and (iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant has submitted unequivocal evidence of its rights in the AIRFRANCE trademark. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s AIRFRANCE trademark. The disputed domain name <airfṛance.com> reproduces the Complainant’s trademark AIRFRANCE in its entirety with the addition of a dot under the second letter “r”. The disputed domain name’s Punycode translation “XN--AIRFANCE-QF0D.COM” reproduces the Complainant’s trademark AIRFRANCE almost in its entirety. The addition of the terms in the Punycode translation “XN”, “QF0D” does not dispel the confusing similarity. The generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” can be disregarded for the assessment of the first element of the Policy.

The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent has not received permission or authorization to use the Complainant’s trademark. The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions, and therefore has not provided any evidence or arguments to demonstrate anything to the contrary. In addition, the Complainant’s use of its trademark precedes the registration of the disputed domain name. It should be pointed out that nothing in the available record indicates that the Respondent is an individual, business or corporation known by the name “airfrance” or by the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the Respondent is not using the disputed domain name for a bona fide offering or goods or services, nor for a legitimate or noncommercial fair use that might give rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

According to the statements and documents submitted, it is clear to the Panel that the registration and the use of the disputed domain name has been in bad faith, by including the well-known AIRFRANCE trademark, to intentionally attract for commercial gain Internet users. The Respondent uses the disputed domain name to activate a parking webpage promoting various commercial services (containing pay-per-click hyperlinks) that does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods and services, or legitimate noncommercial or fair use. It creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation and/or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. It also negatively affects Société Air France’s online presence. See paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

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 disputed domain name <airfṛance.com> (xn--airfance-qf0d.com) be transferred to the Complainant.

Martin Michaus Romero
Sole Panelist
Date: July 31, 2018