WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Accor and D-EDGE v. WhoisGuard, Inc., WhoisGuard Protected / Simon Robert, Jhilltown

Case No. D2020-1870

1. The Parties

Complainants are Accor, France and D-EDGE, France, represented by Dreyfus & associés, France.

Respondent is WhoisGuard, Inc., WhoisGuard Protected, Panama / Simon Robert, Jhilltown, Canada.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <d-edge-hotels.com> is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint involving the disputed domain name and another domain name was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 17, 2020. On July 20, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name and another domain name. On July 21, 2020, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the disputed domain name and another domain name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to Complainants on July 22, 2020 providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainants to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainants filed an amended Complaint only involving the disputed domain name on July 27, 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 Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 28, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was August 17, 2020. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on August 18, 2020.

The Center appointed Lorelei Ritchie as the sole panelist in this matter on September 8, 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

Complainant, D-EDGE, is a subsidiary of Complainant, Accor (collectively, “Complainants”). Together, Complainants form a multinational hotel group, through which they provide hospitality services under the mark D-EDGE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS to over 11,000 hotels in over 100 countries. Therefore, Complainants have a common grievance against the Respondent, and it would be equitable and procedurally efficient to permit the consolidation of Complainants. Complainants own several registrations for the mark D-EDGE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS in various jurisdictions. These include International Registration No. 1458217 (registered December 13, 2018); French Registration No. 4479817 (registered September 3, 2018); and United States of America Registration No. 6021163 (registered March 31, 2020).

Complainants own the registration for the domain name <d-edge.com> (registered June 9, 2013). Complainants use the associated URL to inform customers about their D-EDGE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS mark and their products and services.

The disputed domain name <d-edge-hotels.com> was registered on July 3, 2020. Respondent has no affiliation with Complainants. Respondent has used the URL associated with the disputed domain name to redirect to Complainants’ official website. In this regard, Respondent appears to be masquerading as Complainants, potentially phishing for sensitive personal information from actual or prospective employees. Complainants have not authorized any activities by Respondent, nor any use of their trademarks thereby.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainants contend that the (i) disputed domain name <d-edge-hotels.com> is identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s trademarks; (ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name; and (iii) Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

In particular, Complainants contend that they have a “well-known” name and a strong reputation in the field of hospitality services. Complainants contend that they have trademark registrations including the sign D-Edge, specifically for D-EDGE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS.

Complainants contend that Respondent has taken the dominant portion of their mark, D-EDGE, and merely added the generic or descriptive wording “hotels”, which is likely to confuse prospective online consumers into thinking that the disputed domain name is affiliated or endorsed by Complainants, with regard to their hospitality services.

Complainants further contend that Respondent has set up the URL associated with the disputed domain name to redirect to Complainants’ official website. In this regard, Respondent appears to be masquerading as Complainants, potentially phishing for sensitive personal information from actual or prospective employees of Complainants. Complainants further contend that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name registration or use of the disputed domain name. Rather, Complainants contend that Respondent has acted in bad faith in using the disputed domain name in a likely phishing scheme, when Respondent clearly knew of Complainants’ rights.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not file a reply to Complainants’ contentions in this proceeding.

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

This Panel must first determine whether the disputed domain name <d-edge-hotels.com> is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainants have rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. The Panel finds that it is. The disputed domain name directly incorporates the dominant portion of Complainants’ registered trademark D-EDGE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS, and merely adds a hyphen with the term “hotels”, which is likely to be perceived by consumers as referring to Complainants’ hospitality services, which Complainants provide to many hotels globally.

Incorporating the “dominant feature” of a mark may be sufficient for a finding of confusing similarity under this first element of the UDRP. See WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7. Furthermore, numerous UDRP panels have agreed that supplementing or modifying a trademark with additional words does not make a domain name any less “identical or confusingly similar” for purposes of satisfying this first prong of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. See, for example, Inter Ikea Systems B.V. v. Polanski, WIPO Case No. D2000-1614 (transferring <ikeausa.com>); General Electric Company v. Recruiters, WIPO Case No. D2007-0584 (transferring <ge-recruiting.com>); Microsoft Corporation v. Step-Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-1500 (transferring <microsofthome.com>); CBS Broadcasting, Inc. v. Y2K Concepts Corp., WIPO Case No. D2000-1065 (transferring <cbsone.com>).

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which Complainants have rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

The Policy provides some guidance to respondents on how to demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name at issue in a UDRP dispute. For example, paragraph 4(c) of the Policy gives examples that might show rights or legitimate interests in a domain name. These examples include: (i) use of the domain name “in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services”; (ii) demonstration that Respondent has been “commonly known by the domain name”; or (iii) “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”.

Respondent did not submit a reply to the Complaint, however. Rather, as mentioned in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has set up the URL associated with the disputed domain name to redirect to Complainants’ official website. In this regard, Respondent appears to be masquerading as Complainants, potentially phishing for sensitive personal information from actual or prospective employees of Complainants. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainants have made a prima facie showing of Respondent’s lack of rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, which Respondent has not rebutted.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

There are several ways that a complainant can demonstrate that a domain name was registered and used in bad faith. For example, paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states that bad faith can be shown where “by using the domain name [respondent has] intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [respondent’s] web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on [the] web site or location”. As noted in Section 4 of this Panel’s decision, Respondent has set up the URL associated with the disputed domain name to redirect to Complainants’ official website. In this regard, Respondent appears to be masquerading as Complainants, potentially phishing for sensitive personal information from actual or prospective employees of Complainants.

Respondent is thus trading on the goodwill of Complainants’ trademarks to attract Internet users, presumably for Respondent’s own commercial gain. Given the nature of the redirected site and the disputed domain name, which incorporates the dominant portion of Complainants’ mark, the Panel finds strong evidence that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name with knowledge of Complainants’ prior rights, and in particular with regard to Complainants’ hospitality services offered to numerous hotels globally.

Therefore, the Panel finds that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy.

7. Decision

For all 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 <d-edge-hotels.com> be transferred to Complainants.

Lorelei Ritchie
Sole Panelist
Dated: September 15, 2020