WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Trivago N.V. v. Hildegard Gruener
Case No. D2021-4012
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Trivago N.V., the Netherlands1 , represented internally.
The Respondent is Hildegard Gruener, Austria.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
The disputed domain names <trivago-com.com>, <trivago-com.info> and <trivago-vacation-packages.com> (“the Disputed Domain Names”) are registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 1, 2021. On December 1, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Names. On December 2, 2021, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Names which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on December 10, 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 December 14, 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 proceedings commenced on December 21, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 10, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 11, 2022.
The Center appointed Peter Wild as the sole panelist in this matter on January 26, 2022. 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 leading, internationally active hotel comparison and booking business. The Complaint is based on the International Trademark registrations TRIVAGO, registration No. 910828, registered on August 18, 2006 and No. 1211017 on November 18, 2013. The trademarks are registered and used for a range of services in the field of travel and hotel related price comparison and booking.
The Complainant is also holder of numerous websites with the element TRIVAGO under which it operates, including “www.trivago.com”.
The Disputed Domain Names were registered as follows:
<trivago-com.com> registered on May 27, 2017;
<trivago-vacation-packages.com> registered on March 9, 2019;
<trivago-com.info> registered on June 10, 2019.
At the time of filing, the Disputed Domain Names were being used in connection with what seems to be a pay-per-click (“PPC”) site, providing links to services which are in or related to the Complainant’s business activities.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant asserts to be a well known provider of travel related price comparison and booking services, actively promoting and using its TRIVAGO trademarks throughout the world.
In particular, the Complainant claims as follows:
The Disputed Domain Names are, according to the Complainant, confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, creating a likelihood of confusion given the exact reproduction of its trademark, just adding the term “vacation-packages” in the <trivago-vacation-packages.com> case, which is a descriptive and non distinctive term and generic Top-Level-Domain (“gTLD”) “.com” in the <trivago-com.com> and <trivago-com.info> cases.
Moreover, the Complainant claims that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names. The Respondent is not licensee of the Complainant, nor has it been otherwise allowed by the Complainant to make any use of the TRIVAGO trademark.
Regarding use of the three Disputed Domain Names in particular, the Complainant alleges:
The Respondent is using the Disputed Domain Name <trivago-com.com> for a website with the slogan “Find your hotel offer”.
The mark TRIVAGO (also in the form of the company logo in distinctive colors and font) is used throughout the website, both as a fake link and in text form more than 400 times. The use of the brand TRIVAGO all over the website indicates that the website’s only purpose is to generate clicks and therefore traffic onto the website.
The Respondent’s website creates the impression to give users the possibility to compare vacation packages offers. The links within the website do not lead to any content but redirect the user to another website called “www.trivago-com.info”, (see below c)). This website just contains further links that direct the user to other travel-related websites; partly well-known competitors of the Complainant such as Kayak.
The Respondent’s website therefore acts only as a click generator to <trivago-com.info> and to the linked websites on “www.trivago-com.info”.
The Respondent’s website consists of three windows with links to travel related websites which change with each click on the website, acting only as a click generator.
According to the Complainant, the Respondent has not used the Disputed Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services in accordance with paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy.
As to the registration of the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith, the Complainant asserts that the Respondent knew or should have known of the Complainant’s trademark rights at the time of the registration of the Disputed Domain Name considering that it has acquired considerable goodwill and renown worldwide. The Complainant also alleges that the Respondent is known for a history of domain name squatting.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In accordance with paragraph 3(c) of the UDRP Rules a complaint may relate to more than one domain name, provided that the domain names are registered by the same domain-name holder. In this case, the Registrar has confirmand that the Respondent for the three Disputed Domain Names is the same. Furthermore, this Panel finds the facts related to the three Disputed Domain Names to be sufficiently similar to decide on all three in the same decision.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established its rights in the TRIVAGO trademark.
The Panel sees that all three Disputed Domain Names reproduce the Complainant’s trademark in its entirety. The addition of the element “vacation-packages” or “-com” does not avoid a finding of confusing similarity under the Policy as the TRIVAGO mark remains clearly recognizable in the Disputed Domain Names. The TLDs “.com” and “.info” have no influence on this similarity. See Inter IKEA Systems B.V. v. Franklin Lavalle / IkeaCuisine.net, WIPO Case No. D2015-2042. The Panel concludes that all three Disputed Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Complainant’s established trademark.
The first element of the Policy has therefore been established.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, see Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455. Once such prima facie case is made, the Respondent carries the burden of demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Names. If the Respondent fails to do so, the Complainant is deemed to have satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
There is no reason to believe that the Respondent’s name somehow corresponds with the Disputed Domain Names and the Respondent does not appear to have any trademark rights associated with the term “trivago”. See VUR Village Trading No. 1 Limited t/a Village Hotels v. Carolina Rodrigues, Fundacion Comercio Electronico, WIPO Case No. D2019-1596.
The Respondent is not identified in the WhoIs database as “trivago”. Prior UDRP panels have held that a respondent was not commonly known by a disputed domain name, for example, if not even the WhoIs information was similar to the disputed domain name. There is no evidence in the case file showing that the Respondent may be commonly known as “trivago”. The Panel therefore finds under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy that the Respondent is not commonly known by the Disputed Domain Names.
According to the Complainant, the Respondent is not affiliated with nor authorized by the Complainant in any way to use the trademark and there is no other plausible reason for registration of the Disputed Domain Names than to take advantage of the goodwill and reputation associated with the Complainant’s trademark TRIVAGO.
Based on these facts, the Panel holds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Names.
Therefore the Panel decides that the second element of the Policy is met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Given the distinctiveness of the Complainant’s trademark and reputation at the time of the registration of the Disputed Domain Names, it is reasonable to infer that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Names with full knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks, constituting opportunistic bad faith. Also in light of the exact same spelling of the term “trivago”, the Panel finds it hard to see any other explanation than the Respondent knew the Complainant’s well-known trademark, especially as the websites under the Disputed Domain Names show links to a competitor of the Complainant and to other industry related offers. See PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. LucasCobb, WIPO Case No. D2006-0162.
The fact that the Respondent did not file any explanation how it chose the three Disputed Domain Names in good faith are further elements of bad faith as found by earlier UDRP panels. See BOUYGUES v. Chengzhang, Lu Ciagao, WIPO Case No. D2007-1325; Schering Corporation v. Name Redacted, WIPO Case No. D2012-0729; TTT Moneycorp Limited. v. Diverse Communications, WIPO Case No. D2001-0725).
Finally, the Respondent is known to have a history of cyber squatting, being party in another procedure, which in itself is a further indication of bad faith, see Travelscape, LLC v. Hildegard Gruener, WIPOCase No. D2021-3645; WK Travel, Inc. v. Hildegard Gruener, WIPO Case No. D2021-3433 and Trivago N.V. v. Hildegard Gruener, WIPO Case No. D2019-3095
For these reasons, the Panel concludes that the Respondent has registered and is using the Disputed Domain Names in bad faith pursuant to paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.
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 Names, <trivago-com.com>, <trivago-com.info> and <trivago-vacation-packages.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 2, 2022
1 The place of incorporation and of the principal business of the Complainant is Germany.