WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Chanel v. Lequang Chau
Case No. D2021-4287
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Chanel, France, internally represented.
The Respondent is Lequang Chau, Viet Nam.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <nuochoachanell.com> is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 17, 2021. On December 20, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 21, 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 December 22, 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 amendment to the Complaint on December 22, 2021.
The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amendment to the 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 January 3, 2022. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was January 23, 2022. Due to an apparent issue with the notification, the due date for Response was extended to January 24, 2022. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 25, 2022.
The Center appointed Angelica Lodigiani as the sole panelist in this matter on February 2, 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 subsidiary of the Chanel group. Founded by Gabrielle Chanel at the beginning of the 20th century, the Chanel group offers a broad range of high-end creations, including ready-to-wear, leather goods, fashion accessories, eyewear, fragrances, makeup, skincare, jewelry and watches. The Chanel group employs over 27,000 people worldwide and generated global revenues of USD 10.1 billion in the year 2020. The CHANEL mark is one of the most valuable brands worldwide, and was ranked No. 21 in the Interbrand’s list of the best 2020 global brands, and No. 52 in the 2020 Forbes’ list of the most valuable brands. Complainant has officially been in Viet Nam, where the Respondent resides, since 2011, opening its first alone boutique in the country in 2017.
The Complainant is the owner of numerous trademark registrations comprising CHANEL worldwide. Among these, the Complainant provides full details of the following trademarks:
- CHANEL (word), Swedish registration No. 51091, registered on December 12, 1938, in classes 3 and 21;
- CHANEL (word), International registration No. 201151, registered on June 15, 1957, in classes 1, 2, 5, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34, designating, amongst others, Viet Nam;
- CHANEL (word), International registration No. 318753, registered on August 11, 1966, in classes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 42, designating, amongst others, Viet Nam;
- CHANEL (word), German registration No. 2044510, registered on September 9, 1993, in class 33;
- CHANEL (word), International registration No. 546534, registered on November 17, 1989, in class 25;
- CHANEL (word), International registration No. 1190042, registered on July 8, 2013, in classes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45, designating, amongst others, Viet Nam;
- CHANEL (figurative), International registration No. 1431822, registered on May 24, 2018, in classes 3, 9, 14, 18 and 25.
The disputed domain name was registered on August 20, 2020 and resolves to a website purportedly offering for sale the Chanel branded perfumes.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant maintains that the dispute domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s CHANEL mark as it incorporates it entirely. The additional term “nuoc hoa”, meaning perfume in Vietnamese, is a descriptive word that does not remove the otherwise confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the mark. Furthermore, the contents of the website associated with the disputed domain name confirm the confusing similarity with the Complainant’s trademark as it is prima facie evidence of the fact that the Respondent sought to target the CHANEL trademark through the disputed domain name.
The Complainant further maintains that the Respondent lacks rights and legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. The Complainant did not authorize the Respondent to use its CHANEL mark. The Complainant is not affiliated or otherwise connected with the Respondent, and the Respondent does not appear to be commonly known by the disputed domain name. The Respondent does not own trademark rights over the term “nuochoachanell”, and is not making a bona fide offering of goods or services, nor a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of it. The disputed domain name resolves to a website, which purportedly offers for sale a number of Complainant’s Chanel branded perfumes at substantial discounted prices. This website displays Complainant’s copyrighted materials without authorization and in a prominent manner. This suggests an affiliation with the Complainant, which in fact does not exist. The website does not contain any note, information or disclaimer pointing out that there is no relationship with the Complainant. The Complainant therefore maintains that through the registration and use of the disputed domain name, the Respondent sought to capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of the CHANEL mark, misleading consumers as to the operation of the website by the Complainant.
Lastly, the Complainant contends that the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith. The CHANEL trademark enjoys wide reputation and it is not conceivable that the Respondent would have chosen the disputed domain name if it did not have the Complainant’s mark and activities in mind. As the disputed domain name reproduces the Complainant’s trademark entirely, and resolves to a website allegedly offering Chanel branded perfumes, the Complainant maintains that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith, to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement of the website or goods or services offered on it.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark CHANEL. The disputed domain name fully includes the CHANEL mark followed by a second letter “l”. A domain name, which consists of the misspelling of a trademark, is considered by UDRP panels to be confusingly similar to the relevant mark for purposes of the first element, see section 1.9 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”). The addition of the words “nuoc hoa”, which mean “perfume” in Vietnamese, does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity, see section 1.8 of the WIPO Overview 3.0.
In light of the foregoing, the Panel is satisfied that the fist condition under the Policy is met.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
While the overall burden of proof rests with the complainant, UDRP panels have recognized that this could result in the often impossible task of proving a negative, requiring information that is often primarily within the knowledge of the respondent. As such, where a complainant makes out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with relevant evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
The Panel finds that the Respondent is not authorized to reflect the Complainant’s trademark in the disputed domain name, and that the Respondent does not appear to have been commonly known by the name “nuochoachanell”. The disputed domain name leads to a website purportedly offering for sale Chanel branded perfumes at substantially discounted prices. The website prominently displays the CHANEL mark along with Complainant’s copyrighted material and does not contain a disclaimer clarifying the absence of any relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant. The website associated with the disputed domain name attempts to impersonate or suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the Complainant and cannot amount to a bona fide offering of goods or services, or to a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name. Further, there are also third party links selling perfumes or lipsticks on the website associated with the disputed domain name.
In view of all the circumstances mentioned above, the Panel finds that the Complainant has at least made out a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Therefore, the Panel opines that also the second condition under the Policy is met.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel agrees with the Complainant that the disputed domain name was registered and has been used in bad faith.
The Panel finds that the Complainant’s trademark enjoys wide reputation. The CHANEL mark is uniquely associated to the Complainant and the disputed domain name is a typosquatting of the Complainant’s trademark as it contains the CHANEL mark with the addition of a second letter “l” at the end. The disputed domain name also contains the word “nuoc hoa”, which means “perfume” in Vietnamese (the language of the Respondent’s country). The Complainant also sells fragrances under its CHANEL mark. Therefore, it is clear that at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name, the Respondent had very well in mind of the Complainant’s mark and its activity. The registration of a domain name confusingly similar to the Complainant’s renowned trademark without authorization and without rights or legitimate interests is a clear evidence of registration in bad faith.
The Panel further notes that the disputed domain name leads to a website offering for sale alleged CHANEL perfumes at heavily discounted prices. The website also reproduces copyright materials belonging to the Complainant. This is evidence of a clear intent of the Respondent to falsely impersonate the Complainant in order to mislead Internet users searching for the Complainant and redirect them to its website for commercial gain.
In light of the above, the Panel is satisfied that also the third and last condition under the Policy is met.
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, <nuochoachanell.com>, be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 15, 2022