WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Kurt Geiger Limited v. Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org. / Kyu, John Rex
Case No. D2019-2572
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Kurt Geiger Limited, United Kingdom, represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States of America.
The Respondent is Domain Administrator, See PrivacyGuardian.org., United States of America / Kyu, John Rex, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <kurtgeigerlondon.top> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with NameSilo, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on October 20, 2019. On October 21, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On October 22, 2019, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on October 23, 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 amendment to the Complaint on October 25, 2019.
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 October 31, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 20, 2019. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on November 21, 2019.
The Center appointed Nicholas Smith as the sole panelist in this matter on November 29, 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 United Kingdom company that has since 1963 offered premium footwear and accessories. In particular, the Complainant operates the footwear department in the department stores Harrods and Selfridges, more than 70 stores worldwide and also offers its products through its own website at “www.kurtgeiger.com”.
The Complainant has held a trademark registration for the word mark KURT GEIGER (the “KURT GEIGER Mark”) in various jurisdictions since 1990 including a United Kingdom trademark for cufflinks and jewelry items in class 14 with a registration date of November 13, 1992 (registration no. 00001481898).
The Domain Name was registered on August 22, 2019. The Domain Name is presently inactive but prior to the commencement of the proceeding resolved to a website (the “Respondent’s Website”) that purported to offer the Complainant’s branded KURT GEIGER footwear and accessories to the general public. The Respondent’s Website is strikingly similar to the Complainant’s website, including reproducing the overall design, typeface, color scheme and includes the notice “© 2019 Kurt Geiger, Inc.”
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant makes the following contentions:
(i) that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark;
(ii) that the Respondent has no rights nor any legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) that the Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Complainant is the owner of the KURT GEIGER Mark, having registered the KURT GEIGER Mark in the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the KURT GEIGER Mark as it reproduces the word mark KURT GEIGER in its entirety and adds the geographical term “london”.
There are no rights or legitimate interests held by the Respondent in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent is not commonly known by the Domain Name nor does the Respondent have any authorization from the Complainant to register the Domain Name. The Respondent is not making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Domain Name. Rather the Respondent is using the Domain Name to resolve to a website that offers for sale designer footwear under the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark without permission or consent from the Complainant, which does not amount to a bona fide offering of goods and services.
The Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith. By using the Domain Name to resolve to a website that offers competing goods, the Respondent is using the Domain Name to divert Internet users searching for the Complainant to the Respondent’s Website for commercial gain. Such conduct amounts to registration and use of the Domain Name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
To prove this element the Complainant must have trade or service mark rights and the Domain Name must be identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade or service mark.
The Complainant is the owner of the KURT GEIGER Mark, having a registration for the KURT GEIGER Mark as a trademark in the United Kingdom.
The Domain Name incorporates the KURT GEIGER Mark in its entirety with the addition of the geographical term “london”. The addition of a geographical term to a wholly incorporated complainant’s mark is insufficient to dispel the impression of confusing similarity, see Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2004-0056. An individual viewing the Domain Name may be confused into thinking that the Domain Name refers to a site in some way connected to the Complainant. The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark. Consequently, the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is satisfied.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
To succeed on this element, a complainant must make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If such a prima facie case is made out, then the burden of production shifts to the respondent to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy enumerates several ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:
“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 Respondent is not affiliated with the Complainant in any way. It has not been authorized by the Complainant to register or use the Domain Name or to seek the registration of any domain name incorporating the KURT GEIGER Mark or a mark similar to the KURT GEIGER Mark. There is no evidence that the Respondent is commonly known by the Domain Name or any similar name. There is no evidence that the Respondent has used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name in connection with a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.
The Respondent has used the Domain Name to operate a website that clearly impersonates the Complainant’s website at “www.kurtgeiger.com”, purporting to offer footwear and accessories under the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark. Given the lack of any connection between the Complainant and the Respondent and the manner in which the Respondent’s Website impersonates the Complainant it is highly likely that the products sold by the Respondent are not genuine Complainant products. If this is the case the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name does not grant it rights or legitimate interests since it is using the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark for a site selling counterfeit products.
Even if the Respondent is offering genuine KURT GEIGER products from the Respondent’s Website, such use does not automatically grant it rights and legitimate interests. The principles that govern whether a reseller of genuine goods has rights or legitimate interests have been set out in a variety of UDRP decisions, starting with the case of Oki Data Americas, Inc. v. ASD, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2001-0903.
The WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 2.8 summarizes the consensus views of UDRP panels in assessing claims of nominative (fair) use by resellers or distributors in the following manner:
“… Panels have recognized that resellers, distributors, or service providers using a domain name containing the complainant’s trademark to undertake sales or repairs related to the complainant’s goods or services may be making a bona fide offering of goods and services and thus have a legitimate interest in such domain name. Outlined in the ‘Oki Data test’, the following cumulative requirements will be applied in the specific conditions of a UDRP case:
(i) the respondent must actually be offering the goods or services at issue;
(ii) the respondent must use the site to sell only the trademarked goods or services;
(iii) the site must accurately and prominently disclose the registrant’s relationship with the trademark holder; and
(iv) the respondent must not try to ‘corner the market’ in domain names that reflect the trademark.
The Oki Data test does not apply where any prior agreement, express or otherwise, between the parties expressly prohibits (or allows) the registration or use of domain names incorporating the complainant’s trademark.”
In this case, the Respondent’s Website does not accurately or prominently disclose the Respondent’s relationship with the Complainant, in particular that it is not an authorized dealer or has any particular connection with the Complainant. Rather the Respondent is actively impersonating the Complainant online. Even in the event that the Respondent is reselling genuine KURT GEIGER products, its use of the Domain Name for the Respondent’s Website does not grant it rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name.
The Complainant has established a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. The Respondent has had the opportunity to put on evidence of its rights or legitimate interests, including submissions as to why its conduct amounts to a right or legitimate interest in the Domain Name under the Policy. In the absence of such a Response, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
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 the respondent has registered or has 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 trade mark or service mark or to a competitor of the complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of its documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) the respondent has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trade mark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) the respondent has registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the respondent’s website or location (Policy, paragraph 4(b)).
The Panel finds that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant and its reputation in the KURT GEIGER Mark at the time the Domain Name was registered. The Respondent’s Website purported to offer goods in direct competition with the Complainant and impersonates the Complainant. The registration of the Domain Name in awareness of the KURT GEIGER Mark and in the absence of rights or legitimate interests amounts under these circumstances to registration in bad faith.
The Respondent has used the Domain Name, wholly incorporating the KURT GEIGER Mark, to offer footwear and accessories, be they genuine or otherwise, in competition with the Complainant under the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark. Consequently the Panel finds that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant and the Complainant’s KURT GEIGER Mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s Website (Policy, paragraph 4(b)(vi).
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith under 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 Domain Name <kurtgeigerlondon.top> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: December 1, 2019