WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, SNCF v. April Schroeder
Case No. D2014-1243
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, SNCF of St Denis, France, represented by Cabinet Santarelli, France.
The Respondent is April Schroeder of Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <businessncf.com> (“the Domain Name”) 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 July 21, 2014. On July 21, 2014, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Name. On July 22, 2014, 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.
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 July 24, 2014. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was August 13, 2014. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on August 15, 2014.
The Center appointed Dawn Osborne as the sole panelist in this matter on August 26, 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 is the French State railway company which operates all of France’s passenger rail system. The Complainant has French and international trade marks for SNCF in a stylized form dating back first in time to 2005.
The Domain Name was registered on September 27, 2012. It points to third party links related to travel and the Complainant's business.
The Complainant sent a cease and desist to the Respondent in May 2014. It did not reply.
The website to which the Domain Name resolves is a parking site with an offer that it is for sale.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant's contentions can be summarised as follows:
The Complainant is the French State railway company which operates all of France’s passenger rail system. It is widely recognised in Europe and around the world as an entity involved in transportation and travel businesses. The fact that its name is well known has been noted in several UDRP decisions. It offers on-line services through the website “www.voyages-sncf.com”. It owns more than 1160 domain names containing SNCF which redirect to “www.sncf.com”. The SNCF Group employs more than 250,000 people in 120 countries around the globe and had a turnover of EUR 17,8 billion Euros in 2009. SNCF has been registered in the French commercial register since 1955 and its acronym has been in use since 1937.
The Complainant has French and international trade marks for SNCF in a stylized form dating back first in time to 2005.
The Domain Name was registered on September 27, 2012. It incorporates the Complainant’s mark SNCF in its entirety. The addition of the word busines(s) within the Domain Name is insufficient to avoid confusion with the Complainant’s trade mark, accordingly. The Complainant is a business company. The fact that the last letter “s” of the word business is missing is irrelevant since the SNCF mark is recognizable within the Domain Name. The addition of generic Top-Level-Domain (“gTLD”) suffix “.com” is not to be taken into consideration as it is necessary for the registration of the Domain Name.
The Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. SNCF is not a generic term. The Complainant has not licensed the Respondent to use the trade mark SNCF or anything similar or acquiesced in the same.
The Complainant sent a cease and desist to the Respondent in May 2014. It did not reply.
The Domain Name resolves to third party websites. By using paid link advertisements the Respondent is using the Complainant’s trade mark for its own commercial purposes, presumably for gain. The links relate to travel and the Complainant’s business. Such links could, therefore, lead Internet users to believe that the website is either maintained by the Complainant or by a third party linked thereto. The Domain Name resolves to a parking site which reproduces the SNCF mark of the Complainant in SNCF Fidelite Voyageur. The Complainant offers loyalty programs to its travellers and has owned the domain name <sncf-fidelite.com> since 2009. The links also contain links to dating sites which risks tarnishment of the Complainant’s image. By registering and using the Domain Name the Respondent will mislead Internet users to think the Respondent is connected or approved by the Complainant. This constitutes bad faith. The Domain name is not being used for bona fide purposes, but instead is being used to earn money.
The web site states that the Domain Name is for sale. It has, therefore, been registered primarily for the purpose of selling it for a profit. This supports a finding of bad faith under the Policy.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, 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 and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or confusing similarity
The Complainant has French and International trade mark registrations containing the SNCF word mark. Whilst they are stylized, SNCF is the dominant and predominant feature of these marks. The Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trade mark consisting of the Complainant’s SNCF registered trademark preceded by the generic text “busines”, which although mispelled can be readily interpreted by the human mind as business SNCF. The distinctive part of the Domain Name is the SNCF name. The addition of the non-distinctive text “busines” to the beginning of the Domain Name is not sufficient to prevent the confusing similarity of the Domain Name with the Complainant’s SNCF trade mark. As such the Panel holds that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trade mark in which the Complainant has rights for the purpose of the Policy.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interest of the Respondent
The Respondent has not filed a Response. It has no consent from the Complainant, has not used the Domain Name for a bona fide offering of goods and services given its use targeting the same industry as the Complainant, as discussed below, and is not commonly known by the Domain Name. Nor is it making noncommercial fair use of it. In the circumstances of this case, and in view of the Panel’s discussion below, the Panel finds that the second element of the Policy has been established.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Rules sets out four nonexclusive criteria which shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith including:
“by using the domain name [the Respondent] has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [its] website or other on line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark as to the source, affiliation or endorsement of [its] website or location or of a product or service on [its] website or location.”
The Respondent has not provided any explanation why it would be entitled to register a domain name equivalent to the Complainant’s trade mark with only generic/mispelled terms added. Further, in the opinion of the Panel the use made of the Domain Name is misleading. The use of the Domain Name shows that the Respondent is well aware of the Complainant, its trade marks and services. The site has been used for advertisement links to third party products and to promote products in the same industry as and referring to the Complainant. In the absence of a Response from the Respondent, considering the fame of the Complainant and the material attached to the Domain Name the Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has shown that the Respondent registered the Domain Name in bad faith and has used the Domain Name to attract internet traffic to its site for commercial gain by creating a likelihood of confusion that the material attached to the Domain Name is connected to the Complainant amounting to bad faith use under the Policy.
The Respondent’s offer to sell the Domain Name on the page also indicates to this Panel bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Policy and an intention to sell the Domain Name for a profit further supporting a finding of bad faith registration and use.
As such the Panel finds that the Domain Name has been registered and used in bad faith satisfying the third limb 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, <businessncf.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Date: September 8, 2014