WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Vivendi v. 龚小丽 (Gong Xiao Li)

Case No. D2021-0026

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Vivendi, France, represented by Nameshield, France.

The Respondent is 龚小丽 (Gong Xiao Li), China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <universal-vivendi.com> is registered with Xin Net Technology Corp. (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 6, 2021. On January 6, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 8, 2021, 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 January 8, 2021 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 in English on January 11, 2021.

On January 8, 2021, the Center transmitted an email communication to the Parties in English and Chinese regarding the language of the proceeding. On January 11, 2021, the Complainant submitted a request that English be the language of the proceeding. The Respondent did not comment on the language of the proceeding.

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 in English and Chinese of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 14, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 3, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on February 4, 2021.

The Center appointed Sok Ling MOI as the sole panelist in this matter on March 30, 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 French multinational mass media conglomerate headquartered in Paris. The Complainant has activities in music, television, film, video games, telecommunications, tickets, and video hosting service. With over 40,000 employees in 78 countries, the Complainant’s total worldwide revenues for 2018 exceed EUR 13,000 million.

The Complainant owns the following trade mark registrations for VIVENDI:

Jurisdiction

Trade Mark

Registration No.

Registration Date

International

VIVENDI

687855

February 23, 1998

International

VIVENDI

930935

September 22, 2006

The Complainant also owns various domain names that feature the VIVENDI trade mark, including <vivendi.com> (registered on November 12, 1997) and <vivendi-universal.com> (registered on July 17, 2019).

The disputed domain name <universal-vivendi.com> was registered on January 3, 2021. According to the evidence submitted by the Complainant, the disputed domain name resolves to a website containing links to adult and/or pornographic contents.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to its VIVENDI trade mark. The Complainant further contends that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name, and the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The Complainant requests the transfer of the disputed domain name.

B. Respondent

The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1 Language of the Proceeding

Pursuant to paragraph 11(a) of the Rules, unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, subject to the authority of the Panel to determine otherwise, having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.

Paragraph 10(b) and (c) of the Rules requires the Panel to ensure that the proceeding takes place with due expedition and that the Parties are treated equitably and given a fair opportunity to present their respective cases.

The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese. From the evidence on record, no agreement appears to have been entered into between the Complainant and the Respondent regarding the language issue. The Complainant filed its Complaint in English and has requested that English be the language of the proceeding.

The Panel finds persuasive evidence in the present proceeding to suggest that the Respondent has sufficient knowledge of English. In particular, the Panel notes that:

(a) the disputed domain name is registered in Latin characters, rather than Chinese script;

(b) the disputed domain name incorporates the English word “universal”; and

(c) the website to which the disputed domain name resolves contains English words.

Additionally, the Panel notes that:

(a) the Center has notified the Respondent of the proceeding in both Chinese and English;

(b) the Respondent has been given the opportunity to present its case in this proceeding and to respond to the issue of the language of the proceeding but has chosen not to do so; and

(c) the Center has informed the Respondent that it would accept a Response in either English or Chinese but none was filed.

Considering the above circumstances, the Panel finds that the choice of English as the language of the present proceeding is fair to all Parties and is not prejudicial to any of the Parties in their ability to articulate the arguments for this case. The Panel has taken into consideration the fact that to require the Complaint and all supporting documents to be translated into Chinese would, in the circumstances of this case, cause an unnecessary cost burden to the Complainant and would unnecessarily delay the proceeding.

In view of all the above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that it shall accept the Complaint and all supporting materials as filed in English, that English shall be the language of the proceeding, and that the decision will be rendered in English.

6.2 Substantive Findings

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy directs that a complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order for the disputed domain name to be cancelled or transferred:

(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and

(ii) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

On the basis of the arguments and evidence introduced by the Complainant, the Panel concludes as follows:

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel accepts that the Complainant has rights in VIVENDI by virtue of its use and registration of the same as a trade mark.

The disputed domain name incorporates the Complainant’s VIVENDI trade mark in its entirety. The addition of the word “universal” and symbol “-” does not dispel the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s trade mark. The addition of the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” does not impact the analysis of whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark in this case.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s VIVENDI trade mark.

Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of the first element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, a complainant bears the burden of establishing that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, once the complainant makes a prima facie showing under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to establish its rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name by demonstrating any of the following, without limitation, under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy:

(i) before any notice to it of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the disputed domain name or a name corresponding to the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if it has acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or

(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trade mark or service mark at issue.

(See Taylor Wimpey PLC, Taylor Wimpey Holdings Limited v. honghao Internet foshan co, ltd, WIPO Case No. D2013-0974.)

The Complainant has confirmed that the Respondent is not in any way affiliated with the Complainant or otherwise authorized or licensed to use the VIVENDI trade mark or to seek registration of any domain name incorporating the VIVENDI trade mark. The Respondent appears to be an individual by the name of Gong Xiao Li. There is no evidence suggesting that the Respondent is commonly known by the disputed domain name or that the Respondent has any rights in the term “vivendi”.

According to the evidence submitted by the Complainant, the disputed domain name resolves to a website containing links to adult and/or pornographic contents. Using a domain name, which incorporates a trade mark to divert Internet traffic to adult and/or pornographic contents does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods or services.

The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case showing that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The burden of production thus shifts to the Respondent to establish his rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Since the Respondent did not file a response to the Complaint and has thus failed to offer any explanation for his registration of the disputed domain name, the prima facie case has not been rebutted.

Consequently, the Panel finds that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of the second element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets out four circumstances which, without limitation, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a disputed domain name in bad faith, namely:

(i) circumstances indicating that the respondent has registered or acquired the disputed 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 the respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name; or

(ii) the respondent has registered the disputed 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 disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the disputed domain name, the respondent has 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 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.

The Complainant has registered VIVENDI as an International trade mark since 1998. The Panel accepts that the Complainant and its VIVENDI trade mark enjoy a reputation worldwide and a strong online presence. In this day and age of the Internet and advancement in information technology, the reputation of brands and trade marks transcends national borders. As such, a cursory Internet search would have disclosed the VIVENDI trade mark and the extensive use thereof by the Complainant. A strong presumption arises therefore that the Respondent was aware of the existence of the Complainant and its trade mark at the time of registering the disputed domain name. Registration of a domain name that incorporates a complainant’s well-known trade mark suggests opportunistic bad faith.

According to the evidence submitted by the Complainant, the disputed domain name resolves to a website containing links to adult and/or pornographic contents. By redirecting Internet traffic searching for “vivendi” or “vivendi universal” to a website containing links to adult and/or pornographic contents, a strong presumption arises that the Respondent or a third party stands to profit or make a “commercial gain” from advertising revenue by such an arrangement. In the Panel’s opinion, the Respondent clearly seeks to capitalise on the commercial value of the Complainant’s VIVENDI trade mark to attract financial gain for himself. As such, the Panel finds that the circumstances referred to in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy apply to the present case.

Taking into account all the circumstances, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

Accordingly, the Complainant has satisfied the requirements of the third element under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.

7. Decision

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 <universal-vivendi.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Sok Ling MOI
Sole Panelist
Date: April 18, 2021