WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Caesars License Company, LLC v. C/O Private Ranger Limited / Alexander SF, crocus investments
Case No. D2018-2541
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 C/O Private Ranger Limited of Auckland, Auckland District, New Zealand / Alexander SF, Crocus Investments, of Ras Al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <caesarspalacedeals.com> and <caesarspalaceshows.com> are registered with Instra Corporation Pty Ltd. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 6, 2018. On November 7, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On November 9, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on November 12, 2018, 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 November 16, 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 November 27, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 17, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 17, 2018.
The Center appointed Jane Lambert as the sole panelist in this matter on December 19, 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
Caesars Palace is one of the most famous hotels in the world. Situated in Las Vegas, it has 3,976 bedrooms, a 300,000 square foot conference center, a wide selection of restaurants and bars and many other facilities including, in particular, a well-known casino. The hotel has hosted performances by such distinguished artists as Sir Elton John and Sir Rod Stewart, boxing matches and other sporting events.
The words CAESARS PALACE are registered as trademarks for a wide range of goods and services in the United States and many other countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, those words are registered as a trademark in plain text and stylized form for goods and services in classes 35, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45 with effect from January 10, 1996 in the name of the Complainant under registration number UK2050829. Hotel and related services are included within the specification.
The Complaint annexes screen grabs from a website at a URL that could be accessed by keying the disputed domain names into a browser. That website seems to have been removed but the screen grabs show photographs of the hotel and its trademarks including the words CAESARS PALACE. It is likely that at least some visitors to that website would have mistaken it for one maintained by or for the hotel.
Nothing is known of the Respondent beyond the particulars discovered on the “whois” search or disclosed by the registrar. The disputed domain names were registered on March 22, 2018.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain names on the grounds that they are confusingly similar to a trademark in which it has rights, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names and the disputed domain names were registered and are being used in bad faith.
As to confusing similarity, the Complainant points to its registration of the words CAESARS PALACE as a trademark around the world. It also mentions the goodwill attached to that mark through the services that the hotel has supplied as well as its expenditure on advertising over many years. That goodwill should enable the Complainant to bring actions for passing off or similar actions at common law. The disputed domain names combine the words “Caesars” and “Palace” with the word “deals” in the case of <carsarspalacedeals.com> and “shows” in the case of <caesarspalaceshows.com>. The Complainant submits that the similarity between the CAESARS PALACE mark and the disputed domain names is confusing. It will lead some to believe that the disputed domain names lead to booking services for Caesar’s Palace hotel or for shows taking place at that hotel. Such an impression would have been reinforced by the content of the sites, screen grabs of which are annexed to the Complaint.
The Complainant contends that it is obvious that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy. The Complainant has never authorized, licensed, or acquiesced in the registration or use of the disputed domain names. There is no evidence that the Respondent or his business is, or has ever been known, by a name that is similar to either disputed domain names. The use that has been made of the disputed domain names appears to be far from bona fide.
In the Complainant’s submission, the use of the disputed domain names for what it calls “an imposter site” is of itself sufficient evidence of registration and use in bad faith. That is compounded by the use of a privacy service. The Complainant adds that the disputed domain names were registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting its business, that the Respondent registered the disputed domain names to prevent the registration of a corresponding domain name and that the Respondent has used the disputed domain names to attract for commercial gain Internet users to its site by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of his website or location or of a product or service on his website or location.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
The agreements for the registration of the disputed domain names incorporated by reference the following provisions of the Policy:
“You are required to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding in the event that a third party (a ‘complainant’) asserts to the applicable Provider, in compliance with the Rules of Procedure, that
(i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In the administrative proceeding, the complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present.”
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the first element is present.
The registered trademark mentioned in paragraph 4 is one trademark in which the Complainant has rights. There are others but it is only necessary to find one. The disputed domain names incorporate that trademark in its entirety. (The combination of the mark with the words “deals” and “shows” suggests that the disputed domain names are to be used as the URLs of websites through which rooms or other hotel services may be booked on advantageous terms or tickets purchased for shows at the hotel.) It follows that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Panel is satisfied that the second element is present.
Paragraph 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), observes that while the overall burden of proof is on the Complainant, the evidential burden shifts to the Respondent if the Complainant establishes a prima facie case.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides:
“Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
(i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.”
The use to which the disputed domain names have actually been put precludes reliance on subparagraphs (i) and (iii). As the Complainant has registered the words CAESARS PALACE more or less everywhere in the world and could bring passing off or similar proceedings, the Respondent would almost certainly need the Complainant’s license to register the disputed domain names. The Complainant has stated that it has neither licensed nor acquiesced in the registration of the disputed domain names. That is enough to establish a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Respondent has had an opportunity to lead evidence or make submissions in response to the Complaint but has not done so. It has therefore failed to discharge the evidential burden.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel holds that the third element is present.
Paragraph 4 (b) of the Policy provides:
“For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:
(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”
The Panel finds that the fourth of those circumstances applies. The Panel has already found that the disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s mark. The Respondent has used the disputed domain names as URLs for a bogus website from which it would expect to receive personal data from users, which would have commercial value, or possibly even money. Users would have come to the site in order to book services at the hotel. All the requirements of subparagraph (iv) are satisfied.
Paragraph4 (b) obliges the Panel to treat such circumstances as evidence of registration and use in bad faith. There is no countervailing evidence or argument from the Respondent.
That is enough to dispose of the matter but the Panel is fortified in her finding by the fact that the Respondent used the disputed domain names for an unauthorized and, in all likelihood, an improper purpose. Also, while the use of a privacy service does not amount to bad faith of itself, it impeded the institution and prosecution of these proceedings.
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 names <caesarspalacedeals.com> and <caesarspalaceshows.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 26, 2018