WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Sanofi v. Zhaoguijia

Case No. D2018-2655

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Sanofi of Paris, France, represented by Selarl Marchais & Associés, France.

The Respondent is Zhaoguijia of Guangzhou, China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <sanofi-star.com> is registered with Alibaba Cloud Computing (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 20, 2018. On November 20, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On November 21, 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 26, 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 27, 2018.

On November 26, 2018, the Center transmitted an email in English and Chinese to the Parties regarding the language of the proceeding. The Complainant requested that English be the language of the proceeding on November 26, 2018. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.

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 in English and Chinese of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on December 3, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 23, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 24, 2018.

The Center appointed Douglas Clark as the sole panelist in this matter on January 14, 2019. 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, founded in 2004 as Sanofi-Aventis, is a French multinational pharmaceutical company with its headquarter in Paris. It ranks fourth in the world in largest multinational pharmaceutical companies by prescription sales. It has presence in over 100 countries with around 100,000 employees.

The Complainant is the owner of various SANOFI trademarks in numerous jurisdictions including French Trademark Nos. 3835192, 96655339, 92412574, and 1482708, registered on May 16, 2011, December 11,1996, March 26, 1992, and August 11, 1988 respectively; European Union Trademark Nos. 010167351, 004182325, and 000596023 registered on January 7, 2012, February 9, 2006 and February 1, 1999 respectively; International Trademark Nos. 1091805, 1092811, 1094854, 674936 and 591490 registered on August 18, 2011, August 11, 2011, August 11, 2011, June 11, 1997, and September 25, 1992 respectively; United States of America Trademark No. 4178199 registered on July 24, 2012.

International Trademark No. 591490 designates China.

The Respondent is an individual based in Guangzhou, China.

The disputed domain name was registered on November 11, 2018. It does not resolve to an active webpage.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends as follows:-

Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <sanofi-star.com> and the trademark SANOFI are confusingly similar. The disputed domain name contains SANOFI in its entirety as the distinctive part of the disputed domain name. The additional English word “star” does not affect the similarity of the domain name from the registered trademark.

No rights or legitimate Interests

The Respondent has no connection with the Complainant or any of its affiliates and has never sought or obtained any trademark registrations for SANOFI. It, therefore, has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Registered and used in bad faith

The Complainant submits that there is no doubt that before registration of the disputed domain name the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s rights in the SANOFI trademark given its worldwide reputation and the wide variety of pharmaceutical products sold and advertised under its trade name in the world, including China. The Respondent acquired the disputed domain name to disrupt the business of the Complainant and/or to prevent the Complainant from reflecting its mark in a corresponding domain name.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1 Language of the Proceedings

The Language of the Registration Agreement is in Chinese.

The Complainant requests that the language of proceedings be English on the grounds that the Complainant does not understand or speak Chinese language. The obligation to translate all case relevant documents would be an unfair disadvantage to the Complainant and the Complainant would incur additional expenses and the proceeding would be unduly delayed.

The Respondent did not respond to this request.

Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that:

“Unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.”

The Center made a preliminary determination to:

1) accept the Complaint as filed in English;

2) accept a Response in either English or Chinese;

3) appoint a Panel familiar with both languages mentioned above, if available.

The final determination of the language of the proceedings lies with this Panel.

The Respondent did not respond to the Center’s preliminary determination. This Panel decided in Zappos.com, Inc. v. Zufu aka Huahaotrade, WIPO Case No. D2008-1191, that a Respondent’s failure to respond to a preliminary determination by the Center as to the language of the proceedings “should, in general, be a strong factor to allow the Panel to decide to proceed in favour of the language of the Complaint”.

As set out below, the Panel considers the merits of the case to be strongly in favour of the Complainant. Translating the Complaint would cause unnecessary delays and expense. These factors lead the Panel to determine to follow the Center’s preliminary determination. As the only pleading before the Panel is in English, the Panel will render its decision in English.

6.2 Substantive Issues

To succeed, the Complainant must demonstrate that all of the elements listed 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;

(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 disputed domain name <sanofi-star.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s SANOFI mark in full with the additional word “star”. The disputed domain name is therefore confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered trademark.

The first element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Respondent has not responded to the Complaint to assert any rights or legitimate interests. Section 2.1 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) provides:

“While the overall burden of proof rests with the complainant, panels have recognized that this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. Therefore a complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. Once such prima facie case is made, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent fails to come forward with such appropriate allegations or evidence, a complainant is generally deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the UDRP.”

The Respondent has no business or any kind of relationships (i.e. licensor, distributor) with the Complainant. Considering the absence of a response by the Respondent to the Complainant’s contentions and the fact that the Respondent was granted neither a license nor an authorization to make any use of the Complainant’s trademark, the Panel finds the Respondent has failed to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

The second element of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

The Panel has no hesitation in finding that the disputed domain name <sanofi-star.com> was registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith. The Panel considers that the Respondent can have only registered the disputed domain name in full knowledge of the Complainant’s rights with an intention to trade off the Complainant’s name.

The fact that the disputed domain name does not resolve to an active webpage does not preclude a finding that it has been used in bad faith under the doctrine of passive holding. (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 3.3). See, Telstra Corporative Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallow, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003. Under all the circumstances of this case as described above, the Panel is convinced that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name with the Complainant’s mark in mind and has used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The third part of the paragraph 4(a) of the Policy is therefore satisfied.

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 <sanofi-star.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Douglas Clark
Sole Panelist
Date: January 28, 2019