WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
GEIMEX v. Ibrahim Zacharia
Case No. D2020-3185
1. The Parties
The Complainant is GEIMEX, France, represented by Sarrut Avocats, France.
The Respondent is Ibrahim Zacharia, United States of America (“United States”).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The Disputed Domain Name <leaderprices.com> is registered with Wild West Domains, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on November 26, 2020. On November 26, 2020, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On November 30, 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 December 1, 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 amendment to the Complaint on December 1, 2020.
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 December 3, 2020. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was December 23, 2020. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on December 24, 2020.
The Center appointed Pablo A. Palazzi as the sole panelist in this matter on January 19, 2021. 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 retail store company member of the Casino Group companies in charge of the banner “Leader Price”.
The Complainant owns numerous trademarks registrations for the terms “leader price”, among others:
- LEADER PRICE, International Trademark Registration No. 551402, registered on February 28, 1990;
- LEADER PRICE, International Trademark Registration No. 657857, registered on February 8, 1996; and
- LEADER PRICE, International Trademark Registration No. 1268188, registered on June 11, 2015.
The Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name on May 6, 2020. According to the evidence filed by the Complainant, the Disputed Domain Name leads to an empty page. At the time of the decision, the Disputed Domain Name resolves to a website with pay-per-click links (“PPC”).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s contentions can be summarized as follows:
Identical or confusingly similar
The Complainant contends that the Disputed Domain Name reprints the word element of the earlier trademarks LEADER PRICE, which is also the tradename of the Complainant and the banner of the stores.
The addition of the letter “s” at the end of the Disputed Domain Name leads to think to several “Leader Price” and does not alter the risk of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark.
Rights or legitimate interests
The Complainant’s contends that the Disputed Domain Name leads to an empty page.
The Complainant further states that there is no evidence – since the registration of the Disputed Domain Name – of the Respondent to use the Disputed Domain Name with a bona fide offering of goods and services.
Finally, the Complainant argues that the Respondent is not making any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the Disputed Domain Name.
Registration and use in bad faith
The Complainant contends that their representatives contacted the Respondent in order to get back the Disputed Domain Name, but they did not receive any answers.
In this regard, the Complainant states that the behavior of the Respondent clearly prevents the Complainant from reflecting its trademark in the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy lists the three elements which the Complainant must satisfy with respect to the Disputed Domain Name:
“(i) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in the which the complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.”
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Based on the evidence submitted, this Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark LEADER PRICE.
The Disputed Domain Name wholly incorporates the Complainant’s trademark. The addition of the letter “s” at the end of the Disputed Domain Name does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity.
Therefore, this Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the first requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name:
“(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 at issue.”
There is no evidence of the existence of any of those rights or legitimate interests. The Complainant has not authorized, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Name or to use the trademark in the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant has prior rights in the trademark, which predate the Respondent’s registration of the Disputed Domain Name. In addition, the Respondent is not known by the Disputed Domain Name.
The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any rights with respect to the Disputed Domain Name. Moreover, he had the opportunity to demonstrate its rights or legitimate interests, but it did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
As such, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied the second requirement of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy provides that the Complainant must establish that the Respondent registered and subsequently used the Disputed Domain Name in bad faith.
The Disputed Domain Name was registered in 2020, thirty (30) years after the Complainant obtained its LEADER PRICE trademark. The Respondent reproduces the Complainant’s LEADER PRICE trademark in the Disputed Domain Name only with the slight addition of the letter “s” at the end of the term price. In addition, the Panel notes that an entity belonging to the Complainant’s group of companies (i.e. the Casino Group), operates the domain name <leaderprice.com> which has been redirecting to <leaderprice.fr> that displays a retail website with the Complainant’s trademark and logo (apparently since at least 2013).
Little is known about the Respondent, who has not denied the Complainant’s assertions because of its default. The Panel is of the view that the Respondent likely knew of the Complainant’s trademark and prior rights.
Paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy states: “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your 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 your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location”.
In the case at hand, the Respondent’s registration of a domain name almost identical to the Complainant’s LEADER PRICE trademark, used for PPC links associated with the Complainant services, the absence of any documented rights or legitimate interests of the Respondent in the Disputed Domain Name, and its failure to respond to the Complaint, leads the Panel to find under the Policy, on the balance of probabilities, that the Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Due to this conduct, the Panel finds likely that the Respondent intentionally created a likelihood confusion with the Complainant’s trademark and websites in order to attract Internets users for its own commercial gain, as per paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
Therefore, taking all circumstances into account and for all the above reasons, the Panel concludes that there is bad faith in the registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name.
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 <leaderprices.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Pablo A. Palazzi
Date: February 12, 2021