WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. WhoisSecure / Yung mon
Case No. D2018-2544
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Six Continents Hotels, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America (“United States”) represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States.
The Respondent is WhoisSecure of Los Angeles, California, United States / Yung mon of Biyala, Egypt.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <hotelsindigochicagovernohill.com> is registered with OwnRegistrar, Inc. (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 7, 2018. On November 7, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 9, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on November 9, 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 amendment to the Complaint on November 12, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to 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 November 12, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 2, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 5, 2018.
The Center appointed Mario Soerensen Garcia as the sole panelist in this matter on December 7, 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 Six Continental Hotels, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, one of a number of companies collectively known as “InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)”, with a portfolio of 5,518 hotels in about 100 countries and several brands such as Hotel Indigo, Regent Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels, and Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, among others.
The Complainant’s Hotel Indigo brand is an upscale boutique that reflects the local culture and was first opened in Atlanta, Georgia, United States in 2004. Nowadays, Hotel Indigo has a worldwide presence with 94 hotels, including two hotels in the Chicago area, one of them known as the “Hotel Indigo Chicago-Vernon Hills.”
The Complainant owns 184 trademark registrations around the world for marks comprising ‘hotel indigo’, including the United States trademark registrations for HOTEL INDIGO No. 2.953.309, registered on May 17, 2005 and No. 3.424.796, registered on May 6, 2008.
In addition, the Complainant also owns the domain name <hotelindigo.com>, registered on February 26, 2003.
The disputed domain name was registered on October 9, 2018 and it was used in connection with an employment-related and identity-theft scam.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states that it owns trademark registrations in several jurisdictions for HOTEL INDIGO and HOTEL INDIGO logo and that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark.
According to the Complainant, the disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of its trademark, being the only difference the addition of the letter “s” to the word “hotel” and the geographic name “Chicago Vernon Hill,” which may also increase the possibility of confusion by the consumers, since the Complainant operates a hotel in such place.
The Complainant argues that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, it is not commonly known by the disputed domain name and it has not acquired any trademark rights related to the disputed domain name.
The Complainant says that the Respondent was using the disputed domain name in connection with an employment/phishing scam, probably to disrupt the Complainant’s relationship with its customers or attract Internet users for potential gain, which indicates bad faith.
In addition, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent’s website appeared to be a website for one of the Complainant’s hotels, also including the HOTEL INDIGO logo, with the obvious intention of creating a likelihood of confusion between its website and the Complainant.
The Complainant also mentions that a further indication of bad faith is the fact that the Complainant’s registration and use of the trademark HOTEL INDIGO predates the registration of the disputed domain name by several years, which means that the Respondent knew or should have known the HOTEL INDIGO mark.
Finally, the Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
As per paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the 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.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The evidence presented demonstrates that the Complainant is the owner of the trademarks HOTEL INDIGO and HOTEL INDIGO Logo in various jurisdictions. Also, on February 26, 2003, the Complainant registered its domain name <hotelindigo.com> and has been using the corresponding website for many years. The Panel, therefore, finds that the Complainant has trademark rights for purposes of the Policy.
The disputed domain name comprises the Complainant’s trademark HOTEL INDIGO in its entirety. The addition of the letter “s” and of the geographic term “Chicago Vernon Hill” (noting that said geographic term has been included in the disputed domain name without the second “n” in “Vernon”) does not avoid confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trademark. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.8.
The Panel finds that paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy has been proved by the Complainant, i.e., the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not submitted a response to the Complaint.
There is no evidence that the Respondent has any authorization to use the Complainant’s trademark or to register domain names containing the trademark HOTEL INDIGO.
There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name.
There is no evidence that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name or that before any notice of the dispute the Respondent has made use of, or demonstrable preparations to use the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Instead, there is evidence that the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with a website that requests personal information from job-seekers — a kind of recruitment scam – with the intent of commercial gain.
Based on the evidence in the Complaint, the Panel finds that the use of the disputed domain name, which incorporates the Complainant’s trademark, does not correspond to a bona fide use of domain names under the Policy.
For the above reasons, the Panel finds that the condition of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy has been satisfied, i.e., the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The trademark HOTEL INDIGO is registered by the Complainant in numerous jurisdictions around the world and has been used for 14 years.
The disputed domain name is comprised of the HOTEL INDIGO trademark in addition to the letter “s” and to a geographic term and the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Moreover, the addition of the geographic term “Chicago Vernon Hill” indeed enhances confusion, since the Complainant owns and operates a hotel in that location.
There is also evidence in the Complaint that the disputed domain name was used with the intent to deceive Internet users to believe they were dealing with the Complainant.
Therefore, this Panel finds that the Respondent obviously knew of the Complainant’s mark when it registered the disputed domain name and has intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to its website for any kind of commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark and misleading Internet users to believe that its website belongs to or is associated with the Complainant.
This Panel finds that the Respondent’s intention of taking undue advantage of the trademark HOTEL INDIGO as described in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy has been demonstrated.
The Panel does not accept the Complainant’s submission however that the Respondent engaged in cyberflight upon its receipt of the Center’s Notice of Registrant Information providing the registrant details supplied by the Registrar in accordance with paragraph 4(b) of the Rules. Such change in registrant information appears to be the result of the normal (and indeed expected) reveal of underlying customer data behind a privacy or proxy service as foreseen by Rules, paragraph 4(b).
For the above reasons, the Panel finds that the condition of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy has been satisfied, i.e., the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 <hotelsindigochicagovernohill.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Mario Soerensen Garcia
Date: December 20, 2018