WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Le Cordon Bleu International B.V. v. Domains By Proxy, LLC / Onur Aydin

Case No. D2019-1018

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Le Cordon Bleu International B.V., Netherlands, internally represented.

The Respondent is Domains By Proxy, LLC, United States of America (“United States”) / Onur Aydin, Turkey.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The Disputed Domain Names <cordonbleuistanbul.com> and <lecordonbleuistanbul.com> are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 3, 2019. On May 3, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On May 3, 2019, 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 May 8, 2019 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 May 10, 2019.

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 May 13, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was June 2, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 3, 2019.

The Center appointed Manuel Moreno-Torres as the sole panelist in this matter on June 6, 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 is a Dutch corporation doing business in the culinary and hospitality education sector. The Complainant is present in 20 countries with more than 35 institutes and 20,000 students of over 100 nationalities. Additionally, the Complainant produces and sells a wide range of products under its own brand.

Since 2012 the Complainant is operating a school in Istambul in partnership with Ozyegin University. The official site is “lecordonbleu.ozyegin.edu.tr/en”.

The Complainant is the owner, among many others, of the following trademark registrations:

International trademark registration for LE CORDON BLEU, number 494541, registered on June 28, 1985.

European Union trademark registration for LE CORDON BLEU, number 004751178 registered on September 21, 2006.

Turkish trademark registration for LE CORDON BLEU, number 131939, registered on February 25, 1992.

United States trademark registration for LE CORDON BLEU, number 3570080, registered on February 3, 2009.

Australian registration for CORDON BLEU, number 1014089, registered August 3, 2004.

The earliest registrations in the name of the Complainant for the trademark LE CORDON BLEU dates back to the year 1963.

The Disputed Domain Names were registered on March 1, 2019 and March 9, 2019. The Disputed Domain Names resolved to PPC sites displaying commercial links directing to hotels and education sites.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant asserts that the Disputed Domain Names <cordonbleuistanbul.com> and <lecordonbleuistanbul.com> are identical to the Complainant’s trademarks (LE) CORDON BLEU. Besides, the addition of the city name “Istanbul” makes it even more confusing, since the consumer or user of the Internet visiting the Disputed Domain Names would be likely to assume that they will visit the official site although this is not the case.

The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names.
(LE) CORDON BLEU are the Complainant’s registered trademarks. There is no evidence of the Respondent being commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names. Neither the Complainant authorized the Respondent to use its trademarks in the corresponding and Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent must have been aware of the Complainant and its trademarks at the time of the registration of the Disputed Domain Names since these reproduce the Complainant’s trade name, trademarks and domain names.

With regard to the third element, the Complainant contends that the Disputed Domain Names have been registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant asserts that the goal of registering the Disputed Domain Names was for commercial gain. The Complainant is widely known and has a strong reputation in multiple countries. Besides, Le Cordon Bleu school in Istanbul has been operating since 2012. The Respondent was well aware of the Complainant and its trademarks at the time of the registration of the Disputed Domain Names.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, to succeed the Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:

(i) the Disputed Domain Names are 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 Names; and

(iii) the Disputed Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith.

There are no exceptional circumstances within paragraph 5(e) of the Rules to prevent this Panel from determining the dispute based upon the Complaint, notwithstanding the failure of the Respondent to lodge a Response. Under paragraph 14(a) of the Rules in the event of such a “default” the Panel is still required “to proceed with a decision on the complaint”, whilst under paragraph 14(b) it “shall draw such inferences there from as it considers appropriate”. This dispute resolution procedure is accepted by the domain name registrant as a condition of registration.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

It is well accepted that the standing test for confusing similarity involves a comparison between the Complainant’s mark and the Disputed Domain Names. The Complainant has demonstrated registered trademark rights in the marks LE CORDON BLEU and CORDON BLEU which are entirely incorporated in the Disputed Domain Names.

The mere addition of the geographical term “istanbul” does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. As stated at section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), where the relevant trademark is recognizable within the disputed domain name, the addition of other terms would not prevent a finding of confusing similarity. Accordingly, the Disputed Domain Names <cordonbleuistanbul.com> and <lecordonbleuistanbul.com> are to be considered confusingly similar to the aforementioned trademarks for purposes of the UDRP. See Alfred Dunhill, Inc. v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Abdullah Altubayieb, WIPO Case No. D2017-0209.

It is well established that generic Top-Level Domains (“gTLDs”), in this case “.com”, are typically irrelevant to the consideration of identity or confusing similarity between a trademark and a domain name.

To the satisfaction of the Panel the first requirement is met under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

With regard to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the Panel finds that the Complainant has made a prima facie showing that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names. For such a finding the Panel rests on the following: there is no relationship between the Parties, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its name or trademark or to register a domain name incorporating any of them, and that the Respondent has not been known by the Disputed Domain Names.

Under these circumstances and according to the WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1: “[W]here a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production on this element shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.” However, the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions. Thus, the Respondent did not come forward with such relevant allegation or evidence before the Panel.

In addition, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Names’ composition effectively impersonates or suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the Complainant which cannot constitute fair use. See section 2.5.1 of the WIPO Jurisprudential Overview 3.0.

The Complainant has therefore demonstrated that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names to the satisfaction of the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

For the purposes of the Policy, a complainant must establish that the domain name was registered and used in bad faith by the respondent.

It is apparent from the file that the Complainant developed its business in Istambul in partnership with a local University since 2012. Furthermore, at the date of the registration of the Disputed Domain Names on March 1, 2019 and March 9, 2019, the Complainant’s trademarks had already been used worldwide for various years, including in Turkey. Moreover, the earliest registration in the name of the Complainant for the trademark LE CORDON BLEU dates back to 1963. Therefore, there are a number of factors that heighten the Respondent’s knowledge of the Complainant’s marks: the trademarks are widely known, the Disputed Domain Names include the Complainant’s trademark, and the local activity developed by the Complainant in the city of Istanbul. Under these circumstances the Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent knew or should have known the Complainant’s trademark when registering the Disputed Domain Names.

The Panel also notes that the Disputed Domain Names resolve to PPC sites displaying commercial links directing to hotels and education sites. The Respondent’s actions therefore constitute bad faith registration and use use in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv), as it has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to other on-line locations, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant's trademark.

Upon the above mentioned, the Complainant has established the third element 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 Names, <cordonbleuistanbul.com> and <lecordonbleuistanbul.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.

Manuel Moreno-Torres
Sole Panelist
Date: June 13, 2019