WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Vente-Privee.com v. 费忠博

Case No. D2021-2540

1. The Parties

Complainant is Vente-Privee.com, France, represented by Cabinet Degret, France.

Respondent is 费忠博 (Fei Zhongbo), China.

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> is registered with Eranet International Limited (the “Registrar”).

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed in English with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on August 5, 2021. On August 5, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On August 23, 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 Complainant on August 23, 2021, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. Complainant filed an amended Complaint in English on August 26, 2021.

On August 23, 2021, the Center transmitted an email in English and Chinese to the Parties regarding the language of the proceeding. Complainant confirmed the request that English be the language of the proceeding on August 26, 2021. 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 Respondent of the Complaint in English and Chinese, and the proceedings commenced on August 30, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was September 19, 2021. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent’s default on September 21, 2021.

The Center appointed Yijun Tian as the sole panelist in this matter on October 7, 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

Complainant, Vente-Privee.com, is a company incorporated in France. It is a leading company, which sells all kinds of goods and services through “ecommerce tools”. It operates the Vente-privee website, a shopping club that has been operated for 20 years in connection with the organization of event sales of all kinds of discounted products and services, including fashion articles, beauty products, food, travels, shows, and discount coupons to be used in the purchase of goods and services. Complainant claims to be one of the primary e-commerce companies in France and in the other jurisdictions where it operates, with, for example, over 125 million products sold in 2017, and has over 6,000 employees worldwide.

Complainant has exclusive rights in VEEPEE and VEEPE-PRIVEE marks (hereinafter “VEEPEE marks”). Complainant is the exclusive owner of several VEEPEE marks worldwide, including an European Union (“EU”) trademark registration for VEEPEE registered on March 29, 2018 (the EU trademark registration number 17442245); and an international trademark registration for VEEPEE registered on November 8, 2017 (international trademark registration number 1409721).

B. Respondent

Respondent is 费忠博 (Fei Zhongbo), China. The disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> was registered on May 30, 2021. The disputed domain name resolves to a website with pornographic contents and links to pornographic websites.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

Complainant contends that the disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> is confusingly similar to the VEEPEE trademark. It includes Complainant’s VEEPEE trademark in its entirety. Simply adding the letters “ima” as the prefix and adding the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” in tandem with the VEEPEE trademark do not inhibit the finding of confusing similarity.

Complainant contends that Respondent has no rights nor legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Complainant contends that Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.

Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to Complainant.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

6. Discussion and Findings

6.1. Language of the Proceeding

The language of the Registration Agreement for the disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> is Chinese. Pursuant to the Rules, paragraph 11(a), in the absence of an agreement between the Parties, or specified otherwise in the Registration Agreement, the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement. From the evidence presented on the record, no agreement appears to have been entered into between Complainant and Respondent to the effect that the language of the proceeding should be English. Complainant filed initially its Complaint in English, and has requested that English be the language of the proceeding for the following main reasons:

a) Complainant and its attorneys are established in France and have no knowledge of the Chinese language, whereas they are able to communicate in English;

b) Translating in Chinese all the documents related to the prior trademarks’ reputation would unfairly disadvantage Complainant as it would be extremely expensive and time consuming;

c) The disputed domain name is exclusively constituted of letters issued from the Latin alphabet;

d) The English language is spoken all around the world including in China; and

e) It is unlikely that a person well versed enough in the computer sciences to register a domain name and operate a functional website would not be familiar with the English.

Respondent did not make any submissions with respect to the language of the proceeding and did not object to the use of English as the language of the proceeding.

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 other words, it is important to ensure fairness to the parties and the maintenance of an inexpensive and expeditious avenue for resolving domain name disputes (Whirlpool Corporation, Whirlpool Properties, Inc. v. Hui’erpu (HK) electrical appliance co. ltd., WIPO Case No. D2008-0293; Solvay S.A. v. Hyun-Jun Shin, WIPO Case No. D2006-0593). The language finally decided by the UDRP panel for the proceeding should not be prejudicial to either one of the parties in its abilities to articulate the arguments for the case (Groupe Auchan v. xmxzl, WIPO Case No. DCC2006-0004). WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) further states:

“Noting the aim of conducting the proceedings with due expedition, paragraph 10 of the UDRP Rules vests a panel with authority to conduct the proceedings in a manner it considers appropriate while also ensuring both that the parties are treated with equality, and that each party is given a fair opportunity to present its case.

Against this background, panels have found that certain scenarios may warrant proceeding in a language other than that of the registration agreement. Such scenarios include (i) evidence showing that the respondent can understand the language of the complaint, (ii) the language/script of the domain name particularly where the same as that of the complainant’s mark, (iii) any content on the webpage under the disputed domain name, (iv) prior cases involving the respondent in a particular language, (v) prior correspondence between the parties, (vi) potential unfairness or unwarranted delay in ordering the complainant to translate the complaint, (vii) evidence of other respondent-controlled domain names registered, used, or corresponding to a particular language, (viii) in cases involving multiple domain names, the use of a particular language agreement for some (but not all) of the disputed domain names, (ix) currencies accepted on the webpage under the disputed domain name, or (x) other indicia tending to show that it would not be unfair to proceed in a language other than that of the registration agreement.” (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 4.5.1; see also L’Oréal S.A. v. MUNHYUNJA, WIPO Case No. D2003-0585).

The Panel has taken into consideration the facts that Complainant is a company from France, and Complainant will be spared the burden of working in Chinese as the language of the proceeding. The Panel has also taken into consideration the fact that the disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> includes Latin characters (“veepee”), and is registered in the gTLD space comprising of the Latin characters, particularly English word “.com” (Compagnie Gervais Danone v. Xiaole Zhang, WIPO Case No. D2008-1047).

On the record, Respondent appears to be a Chinese resident and is thus presumably not a native English speaker. However, considering the following, the Panel has decided that English should be the language of the proceeding: (a) the disputed domain name includes Latin characters (“veepee”), rather than Chinese script; (b) the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) of the disputed domain name is “.com”, so the disputed domain name seems to be prepared for users worldwide, particularly English speaking countries; (c) the Center has notified Respondent of the proceeding in both Chinese and English, and Respondent has indicated no objection to Complainant’s request that English be the language of the proceeding; and (d) the Center informed the Parties, in English and Chinese, that it would accept a Response in either English or Chinese. The Panel would have accepted a response in either English or Chinese but none was filed.

Accordingly, the Panel finds the choice of English as the language of the present proceeding is fair to both Parties and is not prejudicial to either one of the Parties in its ability to articulate the arguments for this case. Having considered all the matters above, the Panel determines under paragraph 11(a) of the Rules that English shall be the language of the proceeding, and the decision will be rendered in English.

6.2. Substantive Issues

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that the disputed domain name should be transferred:

(i) the disputed domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and

(ii) 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 evidence introduced by Complainant and in particular with regard to the content of the relevant provisions of the Policy (paragraphs 4(a)-(c)), the Panel concludes as follows:

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel finds that Complainant has rights in the VEEPEE marks. The disputed domain name <imaveepee.com> comprises the VEEPEE mark in its entirety. The disputed domain name only differs from Complainant’s VEEPEE marks by adding the prefix “ima”, and the gTLD suffix “.com” to the VEEPEE marks. This does not compromise the recognizability of Complainant’s marks within the disputed domain name, nor eliminate the confusing similarity between Complainant’s registered trademarks and the disputed domain name (Decathlon v. Zheng Jianmeng, WIPO Case No. D2019-0234).

Previous UDRP panels have consistently held that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark for purposes of the Policy “when the domain name includes the trademark, or a confusingly similar approximation, regardless of the other terms in the domain name”. (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Richard MacLeod d/b/a For Sale, WIPO Case No. D2000-0662).

Further, in relation to the gTLD suffix, WIPO Overview 3.0 states: “The applicable Top Level Domain (‘TLD’) in a domain name (e.g., ‘.com’, ‘.club’, ‘.nyc’) is viewed as a standard registration requirement and as such is disregarded under the first element confusing similarity test.” (WIPO Overview 3.0, section 1.11.1.)

The Panel therefore holds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s VEEPEE marks, and the Complaint fulfils the first condition 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 Respondent has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:

(i) before any notice to Respondent of the dispute, the use by Respondent 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) Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name, even if Respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

(iii) 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 Complainant’s trademarks.

The overall burden of proof on this element rests with Complainant. However, it is well established by previous UDRP panel decisions that once a complainant establishes a prima facie case that a respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in a domain name, the burden of production shifts to respondent to rebut complainant’s contentions. If respondent fails to do so, a complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy (Danzas Holding AG, DHL Operations B.V. v. Ma Shikai, WIPO Case No. D2008-0441; WIPO Overview 3.0, section 2.1 and cases cited therein).

According to the Complaint, Complainant is one of the primary e-commerce companies in France and in the other jurisdictions where it operates, with, for example, over 125 million products sold in 2017, and has over 6,000 employees worldwide. Complainant is the exclusive owner of several VEEPEE marks worldwide, including an international trademark registration for VEEPEE since 2017.

Moreover, Respondent is not an authorized dealer of VEEPEE branded products or services. Complainant has therefore established a prima facie case that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name and thereby shifted the burden to Respondent to produce evidence to rebut this presumption (The Argento Wine Company Limited v. Argento Beijing Trading Company, WIPO Case No. D2009-0610; Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).

Based on the following reasons the Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name:

(a) There has been no evidence adduced to show that Respondent is using the disputed domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services. Respondent has not provided evidence of a legitimate use of the disputed domain name or reasons to justify the choice of the term “veepee” in the disputed domain name and in his business operation. There has been no evidence to show that Complainant has licensed or otherwise permitted Respondent to use the VEEPEE marks or to apply for or use any domain name incorporating the VEEPEE marks.

(b) There has been no evidence adduced to show that Respondent has been commonly known by the disputed domain name. There has been no evidence adduced to show that Respondent has any registered trademark rights with respect to the disputed domain name. Respondent registered the disputed domain name in 2021, long after the VEEPEE marks became internationally known. The disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the VEEPEE marks and thus carries with it a risk of implied affiliation to Complainant.

(c) There has been no evidence adduced to show that Respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. By contrast, the website, currently resolved by the disputed domain name, is a website with pornographic contents and links to pornographic websites. It seems that Respondent is making profits through the Internet traffic attracted to the website under the disputed domain name. (See BKS Bank AG v. Jianwei Guo, WIPO Case No. D2017-1041; BASF SE v. Hong Fu Chen, Chen Hong Fu, WIPO Case No. D2017-2203.)

Accordingly, Complainant has established that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Panel therefore holds that the Complaint fulfils the second condition of 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 the disputed domain name in bad faith, namely:

(i) circumstances indicating that Respondent has registered or acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the disputed domain name registration to Complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of Complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of Respondent’s documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the disputed domain name; or

(ii) Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that Respondent has engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) 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, Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with 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 website or location.

The Panel concludes that the circumstances referred to in paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy are applicable to the present case and upon the evidence of these circumstances and other relevant circumstances, it is adequate to conclude that Respondent has registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

(a) Registration in Bad Faith

The Panel finds that Complainant has a widespread reputation in the VEEPEE marks with regard to its products and services. As mentioned above, VEEPEE marks are registered internationally. Complainant is one of the primary e-commerce companies in France and in the other jurisdictions where it operates, with, for example, over 125 million products sold in 2017, and has over 6,000 employees worldwide.

It is not conceivable that Respondent would not have had actual notice of the VEEPEE marks at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name (in 2021). The Panel therefore finds that the VEEPEE mark is not one that a trader could legitimately adopt other than for the purpose of creating an impression of an association with Complainant (The Argento Wine Company Limited v. Argento Beijing Trading Company, supra).

Moreover, Respondent has chosen not to respond to Complainant’s allegations. According to the UDRP decision in The Argento Wine Company Limited v. Argento Beijing Trading Company, supra, “the failure of the Respondent to respond to the Complaint further supports an inference of bad faith”. See also Bayerische Motoren Werke AG v. (This Domain is For Sale) Joshuathan Investments, Inc., WIPO Case No. D2002-0787.

Thus, the Panel concludes that the disputed domain name was registered in bad faith.

(b) Use in Bad Faith

Respondent is using the website resolved by the disputed domain name to provide pornographic contents and links to pornographic websites. Thus, the Panel concludes that Respondent is currently using the confusingly similar disputed domain name with the intention to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to Respondent’s website.

Given the reputation of the VEEPEE marks, the Panel finds that the public is likely to be confused into thinking that the disputed domain name has a connection with Complainant, contrary to the fact. There is a strong likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website to which the disputed domain name resolves. In other words, Respondent has through the use of a confusingly similar disputed domain name created a likelihood of confusion with the VEEPEE marks. Moreover, as mentioned above, Respondent offered links to pornographic websites via the website to which the disputed domain name resolves, presumably for commercial gain. The Panel therefore concludes that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used by Respondent in bad faith. Such use of the disputed domain name is also disruptive in relation to the interests of Complainant.

In summary, Respondent, by choosing to register and use the disputed domain name, which is confusingly similar to the VEEPEE marks, intended to ride on the goodwill of these trademarks in an attempt to exploit, for commercial gain, Internet users destined for Complainant. In the absence of evidence to the contrary and rebuttal from Respondent, the choice of the disputed domain name and the conduct of Respondent as far as the website to which the disputed domain name resolves is indicative of registration and use of the disputed domain name in bad faith.

The Panel therefore holds that the Complaint fulfils the third condition of paragraph 4(a) 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 <imaveepee.com> be transferred to Complainant.

Yijun Tian
Sole Panelist
Date: October 28, 2021