WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
HomeAway.com, Inc. v. xingxiang qian
Case No. D2021-2044
1. The Parties
The Complainant is HomeAway.com, Inc., United States of America (“United States”), represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, United States.
The Respondent is xingxiang qian, China.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <whyvrbo.com> is registered with Alibaba.com Singapore E-Commerce Private Limited (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 28, 2021. On June 29, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On June 30, 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 July 1, 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 on July 2, 2021.
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 proceeding commenced on July 7, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was July 27, 2021. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 28, 2021.
The Center appointed Sebastian M.W. Hughes as the sole panelist in this matter on August 3, 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 company incorporated in the United States and the owner and operator of a global online marketplace for the vacation rental industry, founded in 1995, and operated via the website “www.vrbo.com”. The Complainant currently has over two million online bookable listings of vacation rental homes and apartments in over 190 countries.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous registrations for the trade mark VRBO (the “Trade Mark”) in jurisdictions worldwide, including United States Registration No. 2820989, with a registration date of March 9, 2004; and Chinese Registration No. 33372168, with a registration date of May 14, 2019.
The Respondent is apparently an individual resident in China.
C. The Disputed Domain Name
The disputed domain name was registered on March 29, 2021.
D. The Website at the Disputed Domain Name
The disputed domain name has been used by the Respondent in respect of a Chinese language website with commercial links to pornographic and gambling websites (the “Website”).
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to its registered and unregistered trade marks; 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 Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
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 Mark acquired through use and registration.
The disputed domain name incorporates the entirety of the Trade Mark (see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.7) prefaced by the term “why”.
Where a relevant trade mark is recognizable 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 Complainant’s 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 authorized, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the disputed domain name or to use the Complainant’s 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 he 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 made use of the disputed domain name, for commercial gain, by providing links to pornographic and gambling related websites on the Website.
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.
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. By using the confusingly similar disputed domain name, the Respondent has sought commercial gain caused by the misdirection of Internet users.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
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 <whyvrbo.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Sebastian M.W. Hughes
Dated: August 17, 2021