WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Accor v. Roozbeh Hashemiha
Case No. DIR2018-0013
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Accor of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France, represented Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Roozbeh Hashemiha of Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <ibis.ir> (the “Domain Name”) is registered with IRNIC.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on July 5, 2018. On July 5, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to IRNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 7, 2018, IRNIC transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. Hard copies of the Complaint were received by the Center on July 19, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “irDRP”), the Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for .ir Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 20, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 9, 2018. On August 10, 2018, the Center notified the Respondent’s default.
The Center appointed Ian Lowe as the sole panelist in this matter on August 20, 2018. 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 French company founded in 1967. It operates more than 4,200 hotels in 100 countries under a number of brands including IBIS. There are 1,137 IBIS hotels in 67 countries around the world including a four-star hotel in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Complainant markets and promotes its IBIS hotel services using the domain name <ibis.com> that was registered on June 11, 1993.
The Complainant is the registered proprietor of a number of trademarks worldwide comprising IBIS including International trademark number 541432 IBIS registered on July 17, 1989 and Iranian trademark number 123326 IBIS registered on August 17, 2005.
The Domain Name was registered by the Respondent on November 11, 2012. In September 2015, the Domain Name resolved to a web page stating “This domain is for sale” above a contact enquiry form. On November 18, 2015, representatives of the Complainant sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent. The Domain Name now resolves to a web page headed “Iran Business Information Services – A know how of doing business with Iran” but none of the apparent links on the web page are active and there is no other content. The Respondent replied to the cease-and-desist letter with an offer to sell the Domain Name for EUR 920. This offer was accepted by the Complainant but in the event no concluded agreement was reached for the transfer of the Domain Name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant contends that the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to its IBIS trademark, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name, and that the Respondent registered or is using the Domain Name in bad faith within the meaning of paragraph 4(b) of the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
For this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Name the Complainant must prove that:
(i) the Domain Name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name; and
(iii) the Domain Name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has uncontested rights in the IBIS trademark, both by virtue of its trademark registrations and as a result of the goodwill and reputation acquired through its widespread use of the mark over many years. Ignoring the country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.ir”, the Domain Name is identical to the IBIS mark. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Name is identical to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made out a strong prima facie case that the Respondent could have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name. The Respondent is not authorized to use the IBIS mark for a domain name and has not used the Domain Name for a bona fide offering of goods or services but only for a parking page that initially simply offered the Domain Name for sale. After the Complainant sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Respondent, the web page to which the Domain Name resolved was headed “Iran Business Information Services”, but with no content or live links. In the view of the Panel, the appropriate inference is that this change was made in a minimalist attempt to legitimize the use of “ibis”. In the circumstances, the Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name.
C. Registered or is Being Used in Bad Faith
The Panel considers that IBIS is an unusual word with no obvious meaning in commerce and in view of the notoriety of the Complainant’s trademark the Panel is in no doubt that the Respondent had the Complainant and its rights in the IBIS mark in mind when it registered the Domain Name. Furthermore, in light of the Respondent’s response to the Complainant’s cease-and-desist letter, offering to sell the Domain Name for the sum of EUR 920, the Panel considers that, as envisaged by paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy, the Respondent registered the Domain Name primarily for the purpose of selling the Domain Name registration to the Complainant (or a competitor of the Complainant) for valuable consideration in excess of its out‑of‑pocket costs directly related to the Domain Name. In the view of the Panel, this clearly amounts to bad faith registration and bad faith use for the purposes of paragraph 4(b) 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 Domain Name <ibis.ir> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: August 26, 2018