WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Societe Nouvelle Nord Littoral v. Ancient Holdings, LLC
Case No. D2013-2204
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Societe Nouvelle Nord Littoral of Calais, France, represented by Cornet Vincent Segurel, France.
The Respondent is Ancient Holdings, LLC of Charlestown, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <nordlittoral.com> is registered with Go Montenegro Domains, Inc.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on December 19, 2013. On December 20, 2013, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On December 20, 2013, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details and contact information for the disputed domain name.
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(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on January 7, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was January 27, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on January 28, 2014.
The Center appointed Fabrizio Bedarida as the sole panelist in this matter on February 4, 2014. 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, Societe Nouvelle Nord Littoral, has proved to be the registered owner of several registrations for the NORD LITTORAL trademark in France dating back to 1998. The Complainant has proved to hold also several domain name registrations containing and/or corresponding to the NORD LITTORAL trademark.
The name NORD LITTORAL has been the title of a daily newspaper since 1957 and Societe Nouvelle Nord Littoral has been a registered company name since 1986.
The disputed domain name <nordlittoral.com> was registered on August 6, 2013. The website at the disputed domain name at present displays a message indicating that the disputed domain name is for sale. Apart from the above said message the website is essentially composed of sponsored links.
The Complainant’s trademark and domain name registrations long predate the registration of the disputed domain name.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant claims that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s NORD LITTORAL registered trademark; that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests whatsoever with respect to the disputed domain name; and that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
In order for the Complainant to obtain a transfer of the disputed domain name, the Policy paragraphs 4(a)(i) – (iii) require that the Complainant must demonstrate to the Panel 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 has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The Complainant has established to have rights to the NORD LITTORAL trademark. The disputed domain name, which contains the Complainant’s NORD LITTORAL trademark entirely, appears identical to the registered trademarks of the Complainant.
Therefore, the Panel finds the disputed domain name to be confusingly similar to the trademark NORD LITTORAL in which the Complainant has rights.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
This Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case. The Respondent has no connection or affiliation with the Complainant that has not licensed or otherwise authorized the Respondent to use or register any domain name incorporating the Complainant’s trademark. The Respondent does not appear to make any legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the disputed domain name, nor any use in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services for the reasons described in section 6.C below. In addition, the Respondent does not appear to be commonly known by the name “nordlittoral” or by a similar name. Finally, the Respondent has not replied to the Complainant’s contentions, proving any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Complainant has satisfied paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The Panel is of the opinion that the Respondent registered the disputed domain name aware of the Complainant’s trademark registrations and rights to the NORD LITTORAL mark.
In fact, considering that the Complainant’s newspaper has been in circulation since 1957 and the Complainant’s trademarks predate the disputed domain name registration by many years, and in the absence of contrary evidence, the Panel finds that the Respondent knew of the Complainant’s services and trademarks and intentionally intended to create an association with the Complainant and its business; that the Respondent must have had actual knowledge of the Complainant’s trademarks at the time of the registration of the disputed domain name; and that the above described use of the disputed domain name, i.e., to divert Internet traffic to the Respondent’s website, falls clearly within the example of bad faith set out in 4(b)(iv) of the Policy: “by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.”
Inference of bad faith in registering and using the disputed domain name is also given by the fact that the Respondent never replied to Complainant’s cease and desist letter. Indeed, due to the fact that the Respondent has not responded to, let alone denied, the assertions of bad faith made by the Complainant in the pre-action communications and in this proceeding, it is reasonable to assume that if the Respondent did have legitimate purposes in registering and using the disputed domain name it would have responded.
In Nintendo of America, Inc. v. Garrett N. Holland et al, WIPO Case No. D2000-1483 the panel found that: “… despite Complainant’s efforts to persuade Respondent to cease its unauthorized use of the Character Name Marks, Respondent has continued to violate Complainant's trademark rights.”; and in RRI Financial, Inc., v. Ray Chen, WIPO Case No. D2001-1242 the panel found (concerning respondent’s bad faith) that “A second factor is Respondent’s refusal to voluntarily transfer the contested Domain Names. The Complainant alleges that it sent numerous cease and desist letters to Respondent without receiving a response”
Accordingly, the Panel finds on the basis of the evidence presented, that the Respondent has registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith.
Therefore, the Complainant has satisfied 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 disputed domain name <nordlittoral.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: February 18, 2014