WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Société Civile du Vignoble de Chateau Latour v. 周建国 (Zhou Jian Guo), 成都米拉图国际贸易有限公司 (cheng dou mi la tu guo ji mao yi you xian gong si)

Case No. D2021-0222

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Société Civile du Vignoble de Chateau Latour, France, represented by Inlex IP Expertise, France.

The Respondent is 周建国 (Zhou Jian Guo), 成都米拉图国际贸易有限公司 (cheng dou mi la tu guo ji mao yi you xian gong si), China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <m-latour.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 26, 2021. On January 26, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On January 28, 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 29, 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 29, 2021.

On January 29, 2021, the Center transmitted an email communication to the Parties in English and Chinese regarding the language of the proceeding. On January 29, 2021, the Complainant confirmed its 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 proceeding commenced on February 4, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was February 24, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on April 2, 2021.

The Center appointed Sebastian M.W. Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on April 13, 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

A. Complainant

The Complainant is a company incorporated in France and a producer of the well-known wine CHATEAU LATOUR, produced since 1842. The Complainant is the owner of registrations in jurisdictions worldwide for the trade marks CHATEAU LATOUR and LATOUR (the “Trade Mark(s)”), including international registration No. 505418 for the CHATEAU LATOUR Trade Mark, with a registration date of August 4, 1986; and international registration No. 879862 for the LATOUR Trade Mark, with a registration date of February 13, 2006.

The Complainant is also the owner of numerous domain names comprising the Trade Marks.

B. Respondent

The Respondent is apparently a company incorporated in China.

C. The Disputed Domain Name

The disputed domain name was registered on March 16, 2018.

D. The Website at the Disputed Domain Name

The disputed domain name has been used by the Respondent in respect of a predominantly Chinese language website, with also some English language content, which promotes and offers for sale a wide range of wines and alcoholic beverages (the “Website”).

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark; 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.

B. Respondent

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

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1. Language of the Proceeding

The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name is Chinese. Pursuant to the Rules, paragraph 11(a), in the absence of an agreement between the Parties, or unless specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement.

Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules allows the Panel to determine the language of the proceeding having regard to all the circumstances. In particular, it is established practice to take paragraphs 10(b) and (c) of the Rules into consideration for the purpose of determining the language of the proceeding, in order to ensure fairness to the Parties and the maintenance of an inexpensive and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes. Language requirements should not lead to undue burdens being placed on the Parties and undue delay to the proceeding.

The Complainant has requested that the language of the proceeding be English for several reasons, including the fact the Website has English language content, and the Respondent offers for sale on the Website wines from different wine areas in the world, which suggests it is familiar with the English language. The Panel would have accepted a response in Chinese, but the Respondent did not file a response and did not file any submissions with respect to the language of the proceeding.

In exercising its discretion to use a language other than that of the Registration Agreement, the Panel has to exercise such discretion judicially in the spirit of fairness and justice to both Parties, taking into account all relevant circumstances of the case, including matters such as the Parties’ ability to understand and use the proposed language, time and costs.

The Panel notes that there is no evidence to support the conclusion that the Respondent is not conversant in English, that the Respondent has chosen not to contest this proceeding, and that all of the Center’s communications with the Parties have been sent in English and Chinese.

The Panel is also mindful of the need to ensure the proceeding is conducted in a timely and cost effective manner.

In all the circumstances, the Panel therefore finds it is not foreseeable that the Respondent would be prejudiced, should English be adopted as the language of the proceeding.

Having considered all the matters above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that the language of the proceeding shall be English.

6.2. Substantive Elements of the Policy

The Complainant must prove each of the three elements in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy in order to prevail.

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that the Complainant has rights in the Trade Marks acquired through use and registration. The disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of the LATOUR Trade Mark, prefaced by “m-“; and it contains a dominant feature of the CHATEAU LATOUR Trade Mark (see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7).

Where a relevant trade mark is recognisable within a disputed domain name, the addition of other terms (whether descriptive, geographical, pejorative, meaningless, or otherwise) does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.8).

The Panel therefore finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Trade Marks.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of non-exhaustive circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name:

(i) before any notice to the respondent 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 (as an individual, business, or other organization) has been commonly known by the disputed domain name even if the respondent 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.

The Complainant has not authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name or to use the Trade Mark. The Panel finds on the record that there is therefore a prima facie case that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name, and the burden is thus on the Respondent to produce evidence to rebut this presumption.

The Respondent has failed to show that it has acquired any trade mark rights in respect of the disputed domain name or that the disputed domain name has been used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. To the contrary, the Respondent has used the disputed domain name in connection with the Website, in order to promote and offer for sale wines and other alcoholic beverages, in direct competition with those manufactured and sold worldwide (including in China) by the Complainant under the Trade Marks since 1842.

There has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name; and there has been no evidence adduced to show that the Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name.

In addition, the Panel notes the nature of the disputed domain name, which carries a risk of implied association (see WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.5.1).

The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to rebut the Complainant’s prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore finds that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

In light of the evidence of the Respondent’s use of the Website in the manner described above, the Panel finds the requisite element of bad faith has been satisfied, under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

The uncontested evidence demonstrates that the Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in order to target the Complainant’s Trade Marks and in order to obtain commercial advantage by attracting Internet users to its Website, in order to market and sell wine and other alcoholic beverages, in direct competition with those marketed and sold by the Complainant for many years under the Trade Marks.

For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

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 <m-latour.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

Sebastian M.W. Hughes
Sole Panelist
Dated: April 27, 2021