WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
L’Oréal v. Farzin Samaee
Case No. DIR2019-0011
1. The Parties
The Complainant is L’Oréal, France, represented Dreyfus & associés, France.
The Respondent is Farzin Samaee, Iran (Islamic Republic of).
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <iranloreal.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 August 29, 2019. On August 29, 2019, the Center transmitted by email to IRNIC a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On August 31, 2019, 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 September 2, 2019.
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 September 6, 2019. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was September 26, 2019. The Response was filed with the Center on September 26, 2019.
The Center appointed Mathias Lilleengen as the sole panelist in this matter on October 11, 2019. 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 industrial group specialized in the field of cosmetics and beauty. It has a portfolio of 36 brands, employs 86,000 employees, and it is present in 150 countries. The Complainant has used the L’ORÉAL trademark in connection with the promotion and sale of beauty products throughout the world, including the Middle East.
The Complainant owns trademarks for the name L’ORÉAL worldwide, such as Iranian trademark no. 10306 registered on May 26, 1953, and International trademark n° 184970 registered on May 23, 1955.
The Complainant has registered domain names, such as <loreal.com>, registered on October 23, 1997.
According to the Registrar, the Domain Name was registered by the Respondent with the Registrar on January 14, 2018. At the time of filing the Complaint, the Domain Name resolved to a webpage displaying the Complainant’s products without authorization. At the time of drafting this decision, the Domain Name redirected to a blank page.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues its trademark is widely recognized by consumers around the world and the Domain Name is identical or at least confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark L’ORÉAL. The omission of the apostrophe after the letter “l” in the L’ORÉAL trademarks is insignificant, and the addition of the geographical term “iran” only increases the level of confusion of Internet users.
The Complainant asserts that the Respondent is not sponsored or related in any way with the Complainant. The Respondent has never been authorized to use the Domain Name. The Respondent has used the Domain Name to direct Internet users to a webpage entitled “L’OREAL IRAN” displaying the Complainant’s products without authorization. This is likely to mislead Internet users to believe there is a connection to the Complainant’s business. Such use cannot, in the opinion of the Complainant, be bona fide.
The Complainant argues that it is implausible that the Respondent was unaware of the Complainant when the Respondent registered the Domain Name. The Complainant is well known throughout the world. The Respondent’s use of the Domain Name is further evidence of such knowledge. This demonstrates that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location, or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location in accordance with paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The fact that the Domain Name temporarily has resolved to a blank page entitled “HACKED BY OSCAR!”, underlines the bad faith.
The Respondent did not send a formal Response to the Complaint. He sent, however, the following email to the Center on September 26, 2019:
A hair color store order us to design this website to guide people
We know that Loreal hair colors are best in the world
This website was only for introducing Loreal hair colors in the Iranian language (Persian) and all pictures that use are referenced
from Loreal offical website
It’s your mind is incorrect and we never product hair color in Iran with Loreal name and meaning of website name means Loreal for
It’s was only introducing hair colors and guide Iranian women to buy good hair color before the Iran new year (Nowruz) because
Loreal company doesn’t care about guide Iranian people in the Persian language
We fully abided by the law and this website was good for introducing Loreal company in Iran
With jpeg pictures from the internet of illegal use of the trademark presumably by third parties.”
6. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established trademark rights. The test for confusing similarity involves the comparison between the trademark and the Domain Name. In this case, the Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark. The omission of the apostrophe after the letter “l”, and the addition of the geographical term “iran”, do not prevent a finding of confusing similarity between the Domain Name and the Complainant’s trademark. For the purpose of assessing confusing similarity, it is permissible for the Panel to ignore the country code Top-Level Domain (“ccTLD”) “.ir”, see WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”), section 1.11.
The Panel finds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The Complainant has made unrebutted assertions that it has not granted any authorization to the Respondent to register a domain name containing the Complainant’s trademark or otherwise make use of the trademark. Based on the evidence, the Respondent is not affiliated or related to the Complainant in any way. There is no evidence that the Respondent has registered the Domain Name as a trademark or acquired unregistered rights. The Respondent’s use of the Domain Name is not bona fide in the circumstances where the Respondent appears to impersonate or suggest a sponsorship with the Complainant (where no such relationship exists). The Panel further notes that currently the website is no longer actively used.
The Panel finds the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Name in accordance with paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered or Used in Bad Faith
Taking into account the fame of the Complainant’s trademark and the Respondent’s use of the Domain Name, the Panel concludes that the Respondent knew of the Complainant and its business when the Respondent registered the Domain Name.
The Respondent has attempted to attract Internet users to the Respondent’s website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website. The fact that the Respondent has not properly replied to the Complaint, further points to bad faith.
The Panel concludes that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith, within the meaning of paragraph 4(a)(iii) 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 <iranloreal.ir> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: October 20, 2019