WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Ile-de-France Mobilités v. Dusty Ollivier
Case No. D2020-0882
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Ile-de-France Mobilités, France, represented by De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés, France.
The Respondent is Dusty Ollivier, France.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <monremboursementnavigo.com> is registered with PDR Ltd. d/b/a PublicDomainRegistry.com (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on April 9, 2020. On April 9, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On April 10, 2020, 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 April 20, 2020 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 April 22, 2020.
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 4, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was May 24, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on May 25, 2020.
The Center appointed Louis-Bernard Buchman as the sole panelist in this matter on June 5, 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 the public transport utility of the greater Paris region, which has successfully launched nineteen years ago a transport pass known as “Navigo”, which is used daily by millions of commuters and tourists to pay for their travels and to access the bus, train, tram and metro lines within the greater Paris region.
According to evidence submitted by the Complainant, its President, who is also the President of the greater Paris region, announced publicly on December 19, 2019 that the monthly subscription fee of the Navigo pass for December 2019 will be refunded to Navigo pass holders, to compensate them for the public transport strike which affected them during that month, and more recently that the monthly subscription fee of the Navigo pass for April 2020 will also be refunded to Navigo pass holders.
The Complainant owns the French registered trademark NAVIGO no. 4266294, registered on April 20, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as: “the Mark”).
The Complainant registered the domain name <mondedommagementnavigo.com> as of December 16,
2019, which resolved into an online refund platform active from January 31 till March 12, 2020, but likely to be reactivated in the coming weeks.
The disputed domain name <monremboursementnavigo.com> was registered on January 28, 2020.
The identity of the Respondent was not available at the time of the submission of the Complaint, and it was disclosed by the Registrar in response to the Center’s request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name.
The Complainant has submitted evidence that the disputed domain name redirects to an error page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
(i) The Complainant submits that the disputed domain name reproduces the Mark, in which the Complainant has rights, and is confusingly similar to the Mark insofar as the disputed domain name <monremboursementnavigo.com> contains the distinctive element “navigo” in its entirety, and that the elements “mon” and “remboursement”, are descriptive words in French which are not capable of dispelling the confusing similarity.
(ii) The Complainant contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name. Furthermore, the Complainant contends that it never authorized the Respondent to use the Mark in any manner and that the Respondent has never had any affiliation with the Complainant.
(iii) The Complainant submits that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. The Complainant alleges that the Mark being well-known in France and that the refund scheme having been publicly announced, the Respondent had knowledge of the Mark when registering the disputed domain name.
(iv) The Complainant submits that by its passive holding, the Respondent is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
(v) The Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to the Complainant.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
6.1. Procedural Aspects: Failure to respond
As aforementioned, no Response was received from the Respondent.
Under the Rules, paragraphs 5(f) and 14(a), the effect of a failure to submit a formal response by the Respondent is that, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel shall proceed to a decision on the basis of the Complaint.
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, it is the Complainant’s burden to establish that all three of the required criteria for a transfer of the disputed domain name have been met, even in the absence of a formal response.
Under paragraph 14(b) of the Rules, the Panel is empowered to draw such inferences from the Respondent’s failure to file a formal response as it considers appropriate under the circumstances.
In this case, the Panel finds that as a result, the Respondent has failed to rebut any of the reasonable factual assertions that are made and supported by evidence submitted by the Complainant. In particular, by failing to respond, the Respondent has failed to offer the Panel any of the types of evidence set forth in paragraph 4(c) of the Policy or otherwise, from which the Panel might conclude that the Respondent has any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, such as making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.
Moreover, as discussed below, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent has acted in bad faith.
6.2. Requirements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
In comparing the Mark with the disputed domain name <monremboursementnavigo.com>, it is evident that the latter consists of the Mark, preceded by the words in French “mon” and “remboursement” (together meaning “my refund”), followed by the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com”.
It is well established that a gTLD does not affect the assessment of a domain name for the purpose of determining identity or confusingly similarity.
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name <monremboursementnavigo.com> is confusingly similar to the Mark which, although preceded by the terms “monremboursement”, is incorporated in its entirety and that these additional terms in the disputed domain name do not prevent a finding of confusing similarity, because the Mark remains recognizable within the disputed domain name.
Thus, the Complainant has satisfied the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Although a complainant bears the ultimate burden of establishing all three elements of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, UDRP panels have recognized that with regard to paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative proposition, requiring information that is primarily, if not exclusively, within the knowledge of a respondent.
Thus, the consensus view of UDRP panels is that paragraph 4(c) of the Policy shifts the burden of production of evidence to the respondent to come forward with evidence of rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, once the complainant has made a prima facie showing, as the Panel finds the Complainant has made in this case, based on the facts and arguments set out above. See Document Technologies, Inc. v. International Electronic Communications Inc., WIPO Case No. D2000-0270.
As previously noted, the Respondent offered no reason for selecting the disputed domain name. There is no evidence that the Respondent is known by the disputed domain name or uses (or has made bona fide preparations to use) the disputed domain name in a business or otherwise.
The disputed domain name resolves to an error page.
No information is provided on what rights or legitimate interests the Respondent may have in the disputed domain name.
To counter any notion that the Respondent has such rights or legitimate interests, the Complainant has argued that the Respondent (i) has no affiliation with the Complainant and (ii) received no authorization from the Complainant to register or use the disputed domain name.
In the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Complainant has established the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy with respect to the disputed domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
As noted above, the Respondent has failed to provide any exculpatory information or persuasive reasoning that might have led the Panel to question the Complainant’s arguments that the Respondent acted in bad faith by creating confusion to the detriment of the Complainant in registering a domain name confusingly similar to the Mark.
It is established in prior UDRP decisions that where the respondent knew or should have known of a trademark prior to registering the disputed domain name, such conduct may be, in certain circumstances, sufficient evidence of bad faith registration and use. See Weetabix Limited v. Mr. J. Clarke, WIPO Case No. D2001-0775.
In this case, given that the Mark is well-known in France due to its continuous display for years on a product used by millions of daily commuters, and that the disputed domain name was created shortly after it was publicly announced that a refund scheme would be put in place, the Panel finds that it is impossible to believe that the Respondent chose to register the disputed domain name randomly with no knowledge of the Mark. See Barney’s Inc. v. BNY Bulletin Board, WIPO Case No. D2000-0059; Kate Spade, LLC v. Darmstadter Designs, WIPO Case No. D2001-1384, citing Cellular One Group v. Paul Brien, WIPO Case No. D2000-0028; and SembCorp Industries Limited v. Hu Huan Xin, WIPO Case No. D2001-1092.
Prior UDRP panels have held that the passive holding of a domain name does not prevent a finding of bad faith, especially when its good faith use is in no way plausible, considering the specificity of the circumstances (see Audi AG v. Hans Wolf, WIPO Case No. D2001-0148). The Panel finds it is indeed not possible to imagine any plausible future active use of the disputed domain name that would not be illegitimate, considering the specificity of the circumstances surrounding the announcement of a refund scheme by the Complainant, and the fact that the disputed domain name is meaningfully and visually similar to the Complainant’s domain name <mondedommagementnavigo.com>, containing the Mark in its entirety. Moreover, it is well established that the mere passive holding of a domain name may in appropriate circumstances be evidence not only of bad faith registration, but also of bad faith use. See Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, WIPO Case No. D2000-0003; DCI S.A. v. Link Commercial Corporation, WIPO Case No. D2000-1232; Mary-Lynn Mondich and American Vintage Wine Biscuits, Inc. v. Shane Brown, doing business as Big Daddy’s Antiques, WIPO Case No. D2000-0004; and Alitalia –Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A v. Colour Digital, WIPO Case No. D2000-1260.
Furthermore, prior UDRP panels have held that in certain circumstances, registrants of domain names have an affirmative duty to abstain from registering and using a domain name which is either identical or confusingly similar to a prior well-known trademark held by others and that contravening that duty may constitute bad faith (as the domain name may create an inherent risk of confusion). See Policy, paragraph 2(b); Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, WIPO Case No. D2000-1397; Nuplex Industries Limited v. Nuplex, WIPO Case No. D2007-0078; Mobile Communication Service Inc. v. WebReg, RN, WIPO Case No. D2005-1304; BOUYGUES v. Chengzhang, Lu Ciagao, WIPO Case No. D2007-1325; Media General Communications, Inc. v. Rarenames, WebReg, WIPO Case No. D2006-0964; and mVisible Technologies, Inc. v. Navigation Catalyst Systems, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2007-1141.
The Panel concludes in the light of all these circumstances that the Respondent’s registration and use of the disputed domain name constitute bad faith, and that the requirement of paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy is also satisfied in this case.
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 <monremboursementnavigo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: June 6, 2020