WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Air France v. James Woods
Case No. D2018-1515
1. The Parties
Complainant is Société Air France of Roissy, France, represented by Meyer & Partenaires, France.
Respondent is James Woods of Gurgaon, Haryana, India.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name, <airfrancereservations.org>, 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 July 6, 2018. On July 6, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On July 9, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 17, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 6, 2018. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent of his default on August 7, 2018.
The Center appointed Steven L. Snyder as the sole panelist in this matter on August 17, 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
In 1933, Complainant started operating its airline business under the mark AIR FRANCE. It has protected this mark through extensive worldwide usage and by registering the mark in numerous jurisdictions, including India, where it obtained a registration in 2014. Complainant is the owner of, inter alia, the international trademark registration N. 828334 AIR FRANCE, registered on October 20, 2003. Since 2004, Complainant has operated a website linked to the domain name <airfrance.com>.
On May 1, 2018, Respondent registered the disputed domain name. According to the Complaint, the disputed domain name resolved to a website displaying a travel search engine and a list of inoperative commercial hyperlinks.
Respondent, according to the register of the disputed domain name, is an individual named James Woods who lives in India. The disputed domain name was linked to the following website: "www.jugal-kaushik.blogspot.com". This blog provided links to other social networking sites which apparently were operated by an individual named Jugal Kaushik. Complainant inferred that "James Woods" is a pseudonym for Jugal Kaushik, so Complainant submitted the Complaint against these two individuals. However, the Registrar informed the Center in its verification response that James Woods is the current registrant of the disputed domain name. As such, the Panel has proceeded on the basis that James Woods is Respondent.
5. Parties' Contentions
From its headquarters in France, Complainant oversees a fleet of 583 airplanes which transports passengers and cargo around the world. Complainant's planes serve 231 cities in 103 countries. Every day, Complainant's fleet makes 1,500 flights. In one recent year, Complainant claims to have transported more than 79 million individuals. This extensive international business is conducted under the service mark AIR FRANCE.
Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its well-known and well-established AIR FRANCE mark, that Respondent lacks any bona fide rights in the disputed domain name, and that he registered and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith. As evidence of the later, Complainant points to Respondent's registration of another airline's well-known mark. Just a few days before Respondent registered the disputed domain name, he registered the domain name <southwestairlinereservations.org>. Complainant contends that each element of the Policy should be construed in its favor and the disputed domain name be transferred to its ownership.
Respondent failed to answer the Complaint.
6. Discussion and Findings
To prevail in this proceeding, Complainant must prove the following three elements:
(i) The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) The disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
See Yellow Corporation v. MIC, WIPO Case No. D2003-0748.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Under the first element of the Policy, Complainant must demonstrate that it has rights in the AIR FRANCE mark and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its mark. See BlackRock Index Services v. Syed Hussain, IBN7 Media Group, WIPO Case No. D2017-1523.
Complainant has been using the AIR FRANCE mark since 1933, it has registered the mark in numerous jurisdictions, and many millions of people around the world are exposed to the mark each year. Clearly, Complainant has rights in the AIR FRANCE mark.
Just as clearly, the disputed domain name, <airfrancereservations.org>, is confusingly similar to the AIR FRANCE mark. The only difference between the two is the word "reservations," which is a word commonly associated with airlines and which does not serve to alleviate the confusing similarity.
Complainant has established the first element under the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
There is no evidence in the record that Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Instead, the evidence shows that Respondent registered a domain name which incorporates, and is confusingly similar to, a very well-known service mark. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that Respondent wished to take advantage of that confusion.
Under these circumstances, Respondent has no rights in the disputed domain name: "[I]f the domain name in question was chosen because of the similarity to a name in which a complainant has an interest and in order to capitalise or otherwise take advantage of that similarity, then such registration and use does not provide the registrant with a right or legitimate interest in the domain name." Compagnie Gervais Danone v. Domain Management, Syed Hussain, WIPO Case No. D2008-1239.
Complainant has established the second element under the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Perhaps Respondent's name is James Woods, as stated in the Registrar's verification response. Perhaps his name is Jugal Kaushik, as indicated by the websites to which the disputed domain name was linked. While Respondent's true identity may be hidden, it is evident that <airfrancereservations.org> was registered and used in bad faith.
To create the disputed domain name, Respondent chose an old and very-well-known mark, AIR FRANCE, and combined it with a word that is descriptive of a service offered under the mark. By using the term "reservation" in connection with "Air France" Respondent has only increased the chance that a consumer would believe the disputed domain name is associated with Complainant and its activities. At almost the same time, Respondent did the same thing with another airline's famous mark; he registered the domain name <southwestairlinereservations.org>. To top it off, Respondent has boasted on his blogs about his familiarity with the travel industry and with generating revenue via "pay per click" website advertisements and displaying a travel search engine.
Respondent did not innocently arrive at the disputed domain name. He chose it precisely in order to create confusion and to profit off that confusion. He acted in bad faith. See Arthur Guinness Son & Co. (Dublin) Ltd v. Steel Vertigogo, WIPO Case No. D2001-0020.
Complainant has established the third element under 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, <airfrancereservations.org>, be transferred to Complainant.
Steven L. Snyder
Date: August 31, 2018