WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. Hotel Directory, Orlando Zunino
Case No. D2019-1655
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Accor, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Hotel Directory, Orlando Zunino, Spain, self‑represented.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <hotelibis.website> and <ibiserechim.website> 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 July 15, 2019. On July 15, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain names. On July 16, 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 July 17, 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 July 22, 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”).
On July 17 and 18, 2020, the Center received informal communications from the Respondent.
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 23, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 12, 2019.
On July 23 and 25, 2019, the Center received further informal communications from the Respondent. Upon request of the Complainant, the proceeding was suspended on July 29, 2019. Upon request of the Complainant, the proceeding was reinstituted on December 12, 2019, with the due date for Response on December 26, 2019. On December 19, 2019, the Center received an informal communication from the Respondent. The Respondent did not submit a formal Response.
The Center appointed Martin Michaus Romero as the sole panelist in this matter on January 9, 2020. 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 leading global hotel operator. A world leader in economic a mid-scale hotels and a major player in upscale a luxury hospitality services. It has provided customers with expertise acquired in this core business for more than 45 years.
The Complainant has acquired considerable reputation and goodwill worldwide. It operates more than 4,500 hotels in around 100 countries worldwide and more that 700,000 rooms from economy to upscale.
The Complainant operates hotels such as Fairmont, Raffles, Swissotel, Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Grand Mercure, and Ibis. It offers hotel stays tailored to the specific needs of both business and leisure customers.
The Complainant operates in approximately 66 countries with more than 1,100 hotels comprising of around 150,000 rooms. In Spain, the Complainant operates 90 hotels including 10,946 rooms among which there are 40 hotels of the brand IBIS, 7 IBIS Styles hotels, and 22 IBIS Budget Hotels.
The Complainant owns the IBIS Erechim Hotel in Brazil, which is known as an economy hotel for business and leisure.
The Complainant owns the international trademark IBIS, registration number 541432, registered July 17, 1989, designating inter alia Benelux, Germany, Russian Federation, and Vietnam, duly renewed and covering classes 38, 39, and 42. It also owns international trademark IBIS HOTELS, registration number 1097368, registered on September 12, 2011, designating inter alia Australia, Ghana, Kenya, Russian Federation, and the European Union, covering services in classes 35 and 43. It also owns European Union trademark IBIS, registration number 001527720, filed on February 18, 2000 and registered June 6, 2001, duly renewed and covering goods and services in classes 16, 39, and 42. Likewise, it owns European Union trademark IBIS HOTEL, registration number 014843701, filed on November 27, 2015 and registered on March 14, 2016, covering class 43.
The Complainant has registered the following domain names reflecting the IBIS trademark: <ibis.com>, on June 11, 1993; <ibishotels.com>, on May 30, 2001; and <ibishotel.org>, on October 6, 2000.
The disputed domain name <hotelibis.website> was registered on August 10, 2018. The disputed domain name <ibiserechim.website> was registered on July 25, 2018. The disputed domain names redirect to the domain name <tripexplorer.website> offering travel and hotel related services.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states in its Complaint that the Respondent:
1) registered the disputed domain names <ibiserechim.website> and <hotelibis.website>, which are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s well-known trademarks IBIS, IBIS HOTELS, and IBIS HOTEL, without the Complainant’s knowledge or authorization;
2) registered the disputed domain names <ibiserechim.website> and <hotelibis.website>, which include the IBIS trademarks, to create confusion in Internet consumers that the disputed domain names are affiliated with the Complainant;
3) has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names; and
4) likely intended to confuse the Complainant’s customers or potential customers, considering the complete reproduction of the IBIS trademarks in the disputed domain names.
Accordingly, the disputed domain names were selected, registered, and used by the Respondent not for a bona fide offering of goods or services nor any fair use, but rather to mislead Internet users, disrupt the Complainant’s business, and affect the reputation or notoriety of the IBIS trademarks.
The Respondent did not substantively reply to the Complainant’s contentions. He submitted several emails in Spanish wiling to transfer the disputed domain name, but once the proceeding was suspended the transfer never occurred.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 15(a) of the Rules instructs the Panel as to the principles the Panel is to use in determining the dispute: “A Panel shall decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable”.
Considering that the Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions, in order to determine whether the Complainant has met its burden as stated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Panel bases its Decision on the statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy and the Rules.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that the Complainant must prove each of the following: (i) that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (ii) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and (iii) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has submitted evidence of its rights in the IBIS trademarks. The disputed domain names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s IBIS, IBIS HOTEL, and IBIS HOTELS trademarks. The disputed domain names <ibiserechim.website> and <hotelibis.website> reproduce the Complainant’s trademark IBIS in its entirety. The term “erechim” does not prevent a finding of confusingly similarity. Likewise, the terms “hotel” included in the disputed domain name <hotelibis.website> does not prevent a finding of confusingly similarity.
The IBIS trademark is included in the disputed domain names, and the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffix, “.website”, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the disputed domain names and the IBIS trademarks.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Respondent has not received permission or authorization to use the Complainant’s trademarks. The Respondent did not substantively reply to the Complainant’s contentions, and therefore has not provided any evidence to demonstrate anything to the contrary. It should be pointed out that nothing in the available record indicates that the Respondent is an individual, business, or corporation known by the name ““ibiserechim.website” or “hotelibis.website”. Furthermore, the Respondent is not using the disputed domain names for a bona fide offering of good or services, nor for a legitimate or noncommercial fair use that might give rise to rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain names.
There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain names or owned a trademark or is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain names.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
According to the evidence submitted by the Complainant, it is clear to the Panel that the registration and the use of the disputed domain names has been in bad faith, by including the IBIS trademark, to intentionally attract Internet users for commercial gain. The inclusion of the term “erechim” in the <ibiserechim.website> disputed domain name and “hotel” in the <hotelibis.website> disputed domain name attempts to deceive or lead Internet users to believe that the disputed domain names are operated by the Complainant.
The Respondent has demonstrated, by registering the disputed domain names which reproduce the Complainant’s name and mark, an intent to capitalize on the goodwill of the Complainant’s trademarks. Furthermore, the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other online location by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s IBIS trademarks. These activities constitute, in view of the Panel, clear evidence of registration and use of the disputed domain names in bad faith.
The disputed domain names unduly redirect to a platform titled “Trip Explorer” offering promotion and sale of tourist products and services, namely lodging through online booking of hotels or apartments, airline tickets, and combination lodging and airfare packages.
The above creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation and/or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. This also negatively affects the Complainant’s online presence and disrupts the Complainant’s business. See paragraphs 4(b)(iv) and 4(b)(iii) of the Policy.
The Panel finds that the Complainant satisfies paragraph 4(a)(iii) of 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 names, <hotelibis.website> and <ibiserechim.website>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Martin Michaus Romero
Date: January 23, 2020