WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft v. “www.discount-swarovski.com”
Case No. D2013-0803
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Swarovski Aktiengesellschaft of Triesen, Liechtenstein represented by LegalBase (Pvt) Limited, Sri Lanka.
The Respondent is “www.discount-swarovski.com” of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <swarovski-store.net> is registered with Web Commerce Communications Limited dba WebNic.cc (the “Registrar”).
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 6, 2013. On May 6, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On May 6, 2013, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing its contact details thereon.
The Center verified that 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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on May 14, 2013. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 3, 2013. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 5, 2013.
The Center appointed Reynaldo Urtiaga Escobar as the sole panelist in this matter on June 12, 2013. 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.
The proceedings are conducted in English as this is the language of the disputed domain name’s registration agreement.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is a worldwide leading producer of cut crystal, gemstones, and crystalline semi-finished goods for the fashion, jewelry, home decor, collectibles, and lighting industries.
The Complainant markets its fine crystal products in more than 120 countries through 1,218 self-owned boutiques, and more than 1000 partner-operated retail stores located all over the world, including the Netherlands where the Respondent is domiciled.
The Complainant holds Community trademark registrations for SWAROVSKI extending throughout the Netherlands, among other European countries, since 1998. The Complainant also owns international trademark registrations for SWAROVSKI since November 3, 2004.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name on September 11, 2012. The disputed domain name resolves to an online store offering for sale purportedly authentic SWAROVSKI jewelry products, and displaying the Complainant’s SWAROVSKI mark.
The Complainant claims to have been concerned about the possibility of cyber-flight in this case. Accordingly, instead of serving a cease and desist letter to the Respondent first, the Complainant filed a UDRP Complaint so as to ensure that the disputed domain name remained on “registrar-lock” status pending resolution of the administrative proceedings.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant’s factual and legal contentions can be summarized as follows:
i. Previous UDRP panels have found that coupling a common word with the Complainant’s mark in a domain name, especially a well-known mark like SWAROVSKI, reinforces rather than negates a finding of confusing similarity;
ii. The addition of the term “store” as a suffix to the SWAROVSKI mark does not lessen the confusing similarity between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s mark;
iii. The Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant and has not received any license or consent, express or implied, to use the SWAROVSKI marks in a domain name or in any other manner;
iv. The Respondent has never been known by the disputed domain name and has no legitimate interest in the SWAROVSKI mark or the name Swarovski;
v. Previous UDRP panels have ruled out the existence of a bona fide offering where a respondent chooses to incorporate a well-known trademark like SWAROVSKI, into a domain name, without the authorization of the trademark holder;
vi. The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name in bad faith because it was registered with the knowledge of the Complainant’s trademark rights, as it is inconceivable that the Respondent was unaware of the SWAROVSKI mark;
vii. It is well established that registration of a famous mark like SWAROVSKI, as a domain name, by an entity having no legitimate relationship with the mark is itself sufficient to demonstrate opportunistic bad faith use and registration as per the Policy;
viii. The registration and use of the disputed domain name creates initial interest confusion among Internet users as a result of the Respondent’s purported affiliation with the Complainant;
ix. The Respondent is creating the impression that the website at the disputed domain name is an official website from the Complainant and that the Respondent is an authorized seller of SWAROVSKI products;
x. The Complainant does not guarantee the authenticity or quality of the products being sold on the website at the disputed domain name;
xi. The Respondent was trying to pass itself off as the Complainant while exploiting the goodwill associated with the SWAROVSKI marks for commercial gain.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, in order to succeed in this administrative proceeding, the Complainant must prove that:
i. the disputed 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 disputed domain name; and
iii. the disputed domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
These elements are discussed in turn below. In considering these elements, paragraph 15(a) of the Rules provides that the Panel shall decide the Complaint on the basis of statements and documents submitted and in accordance with the Policy, the Rules and any other rules or principles of law that the Panel deems applicable.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The gateway question under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy is whether the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark, not whether the website to which the disputed domain name resolves will confuse Internet users. See The Vanguard Group, Inc. v. John Zuccarini, WIPO Case No. D2002-0834 (a complainant need not to establish actual confusion because the test is objective, not subjective).
The Complainant proves to hold registered trademark rights since 1972 in the United States of America, among many other countries, as well as possessing worldwide reputation in the mark SWAROVSKI. Having established this, the Complainant goes on to allege that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the SWAROVSKI mark because the Respondent’s domain name incorporates the Complainant’s mark in its entirety.
Paragraph 1.2 of the WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition (“WIPO Overview 2.0”) explains that the test for confusing similarity under the UDRP involves a straightforward visual or aural comparison between the trademark and the domain name itself to determine likelihood of Internet user confusion and that, in order to satisfy this test, the relevant trademark would generally need to be recognizable as such within the domain name, with the addition of common, dictionary, descriptive, or negative terms typically being regarded as insufficient to prevent Internet user confusion.
In subscribing to the consensus view, the Panel finds that SWAROVSKI is immediately recognizable as a trademark within the disputed domain name.
More particularly, after visually comparing the mark SWAROVSKI to “swarovski-store” being the relevant string of the disputed domain name for determining likelihood of confusion, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the SWAROVSKI mark as the latter is embodied in its entirety in the disputed domain name. See Verizon Trademark Services LLC v. The Helard Group, WIPO Case No. D2012-0277 (“several previous UDRP panels have held that incorporating a trademark in its entirety is generally sufficient to establish that a domain name is identical or confusingly similar to complainant’s mark”).
A finding of confusing similarity is all the more warranted where, as here, the mark incorporated in the disputed domain name is well known. See Ansell Healthcare Products Inc. v. Australian Therapeutics Supplies Ply, Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2001-0110 (“the incorporation of a complainant’s well-known trademark in the registered domain name is considered sufficient to find the domain name confusingly similar to the complainant's trademark”).
The inclusion of a generic designation like “store” only reinforces the connection between the disputed domain name and the Complainant’s notorious mark since Internet users are misled into thinking that the Complainant’s genuine jewelry products are available for purchase on the Respondent’s online “store”. Needless to say, the hyphen separating “swarovski” from “store” is regarded as inconsequential for the purposes of differentiating the disputed domain name from the Complainant’s notorious trademark.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s SWAROVSKI mark.
The Complainant has thus met the first threshold of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
The second element of a claim of abusive domain name registration and use is that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name (Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii)). Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides that “any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(ii):
i. before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
ii. you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
iii. you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.”
As noted in paragraph 2.1 of the WIPO Overview 2.0, the burden is on the Complainant to establish the absence of the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. However, because of the inherent difficulties in proving a negative, the consensus view is that the Complainant need only put forward a prima facie case that the Respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests. The burden of production then shifts to the Respondent to rebut that prima facie case (see also, e.g. World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. v. Ringside Collectibles, WIPO Case No. D2000-1306.)
The Complainant represents to have never licensed or authorized the Respondent to apply for any domain name incorporating its SWAROVSKI mark. Equally, the Complainant submits that the Respondent is not known by the disputed domain name. On these credible assertions and the evidence put forward regarding the use to which the disputed domain name was subjected prior to the Respondent’s website being discontinued, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established a prima facie case against the Respondent.
In the absence of a Response, this Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default. See Pavillion Agency, Inc., Cliff Greenhouse and Keith Greenhouse v. Greenhouse Agency Ltd., and Glenn Greenhouse, WIPO Case No. D2000-1221 (finding that the respondent’s failure to respond can be construed as an admission that it has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name); Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. D3M Virtual Reality Inc., eResolution Case No. AF-0336 (finding no rights or legitimate interests where no such rights or interests were immediately apparent to the panel and the respondent did not come forward to suggest any right or interest it may have possessed).
Further, the Panel notes that the Respondent’s website presents itself as a Complainant-operated online store with the SWAROVSKI trademark and accompanying swan logo featuring prominently on the home page, while marketing purportedly genuine SWAROVSKI products like brooches, bracelets, rings, pendants, and necklaces.
This use of the disputed domain name cannot be characterized as bona fide within the meaning of paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy because the Respondent is passing itself off as the Complainant or one of its authorized dealers.
It is also not bona fide because the jewelry items marketed on Respondent’s website are most likely knock-offs of SWAROVSKI products since the Complainant’s distribution channels are limited to authorized boutiques and the Complainant’s official online store, and also because the products featured on the Respondent’s website are offered at an improbable 85% discount. See Jeanne Lanvin Company v. Xizhang Jiang, WIPO Case No. D2013-0344 (the items once advertised on the website at the disputed domain name are presumed by this Panel to be non-genuine since they were offered at a quarter of their regular price, as noted by Complainant, and also because they were marketed outside of their regular distribution channels, namely fashionable boutiques and Complainant’s own online store).
Likewise, the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name does not constitute a legitimate noncommercial or fair use within the purview of paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy because the Respondent was making a profit, or at least sought to make it, by deceptively attracting Internet users to a supposedly official SWAROVSKI online shop.
In summation, the Panel finds that the Respondent does not have rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Consequently, the Complainant has demonstrated the second limb of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(a)(iii) of the Policy requires a complainant to prove that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith in order to be successful in its complaint. Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy sets forth a number of non-exclusive grounds of bad faith registration and use:
“(i) circumstances indicating that you [the respondent] have registered or acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your [the respondent’s] documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you [the respondent] have registered the 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 you [the respondent] have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you [the respondent] have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you [the respondent] have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your [the respondent’s] website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your [the respondent’s] website or location or of a product or service on your [the respondent’s] website or location.”
The Complainant alleges that the selection of the disputed domain name, which wholly incorporates the Complainant’s mark was no accident because “Swarovski’ is not a generic or descriptive term but a famous and well-known mark. The Complainant further submits that the Respondent could not have conceivably been unaware of the Complainant’s trademark rights in SWAROVSKI at the time of registration of the disputed domain name.
In light of the global and longstanding use of the SWAROVSKI mark, it is only reasonable for the Panel to assume that, under the circumstances, the Respondent registered the disputed domain name to cash in on the fame of the SWAROVSKI mark. This circumstance alone is sufficient to prove bad faith registration of the disputed domain name. See Singapore Airlines Limited v. European Travel Network, WIPO Case No. D2000-0641 (where the selection of the disputed domain name is so obviously connected to the complainant’s well-known trademark, their very use by someone with no connection with the complainant suggests opportunistic bad faith.)
Furthermore, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name to offer allegedly genuine SWAROVSKI products is conclusive evidence of bad faith under Policy paragraph 4(b)(iv) above since the Respondent has been tarnishing the reputation of the Complainant’s iconic mark by associating SWAROVSKI’s fine jewelry collection with the sale of presumably counterfeit goods. See Lacoste Alligator S.A. v. Monique Marcil, Molou Hudong, WIPO Case No. D2012-0851 (by engaging in the sale of purportedly genuine Lacoste products, the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its websites, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of those websites, in violation of paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy).
In closing, the Panel finds that the Respondent’s provision of false contact information, as confirmed by the express courier service used by the Center, further supports a finding of bad faith registration and use in this case.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith within the meaning of the Policy.
The Complainant has therefore sustained its burden in connection with 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 <swarovski-store.net> be transferred to the Complainant.
Reynaldo Urtiaga Escobar
Date: June 26, 2013