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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
LouisVuitton v. Net-Promotion
Case No. D2000-0430
1. The Parties
A. The Complainant is Louis Vuitton Malletier, 2 rue de Pont Neuf, Industrial Property Department, 75034 Paris Cedex 01, France (Vuitton).
B. The Respondent is Net-Promotion, Inc. c/o Dott. Balanzone, via Codussi 14, Bergamo, BG 24100, Italy, with other addresses at Net-Promotion, Inc. c/o Stefano Brozzoni, 2 avenue des Calanques Le Calandal, Cassis 13260, France, and Net-Promotion, Inc., 1706 Frant Street, Suite 591, Lynden, WA 98264, U.S.A.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
A. This dispute concerns the domain name "luisvuitton.com".
B. The Registrar with which the domain names is registered is Network Solutions, Inc.
3. Procedural History
A. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (hereafter : "the Center") received Vuitton’s complaint on May 12, 2000 (electronic version) and May 15, 2000, (hardcopy).
B. On May 16, 2000, the Center sent a request for registrar verification in connection with this case to Network Solutions. The registrar verification response confirmed that the registrant is Net-Promotion Inc. and that the administrative contact is Stefano Brozzoni.
C. The Center verified that the complaint satisfies the formal requirements on May 22, 2000. The notification of complaint was transmitted on May 22, 2000, and the notification of the Respondent’s default on June 16, 2000.
D. On June 26, 2000, the Center advised the Parties that Professor François Dessemontet had been appointed as the panelist in this proceeding.
E. The decision has been forwarded by the panelist to the Center within the time limit to July 9, 2000.
4. Factual Background and the Parties’ Contentions
A. The Trademark
The Complaint is based on the trademark Louis Vuitton. The Complainant is the owner of the following registered trademarks:
(1) In the U.S.A. Louis Vuitton, Reg. No. 1,045,932, September 10, 1976;
(2) In the European Community Louis Vuitton, Reg. No. 15,610, March 16, 1998;
(3) As well as trademarks registered in 96 additional countries in the world.
B. The Complaint
The complaint alleges that the trademark is used and has never been abandoned. The grounds for the complaint are:
(1) The domain name is identical to the trademark Louis Vuitton.
(2) The Respondent is not making a legitimate non commercial fair use of the domain name because:
(a) the Respondent has never been known by or used the trademark or similar trade or service mark.
(b) there is no relation between the Complainant and the Respondent, nor a license, nor an authorization to use the complainant’s works.
(c) the Respondent does not offer any advertising or goods or services under the domain’s name.
(3) The Respondent registered the domain in bad faith because:
(a) the Respondent was posting an advertisement stating that "this domain is available".
(b) the Respondent was unwilling to transfer the domain name at the Complainant’s demand unless a substantial sum of money exceeding the costs directly related to the domain name was paid.
(c) the Respondent also owns the registrations for numerous other domain names which are the names or marks of well known business entities, which suggests an intent to profit from their activities.
In its complaint the Complainant requests that the ownership of the domain name in issue be transferred to it.
C. The Response
The Respondent has not submitted any response.
5. Discussion and Findings
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar Domain Name
The Complainant owns the trademarks and trade names Louis Vuitton among others. Further the Complainant owns the domain name vuitton.com.
Those marks and names are world famous and well known within the meaning of Art. 6bis of the Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial Property and Art. 16, para. 2 of the Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.
As such, any use by a person other than the Complainant of the trademark, trade name or domain name is likely to raise confusion in the public between the Complainant’s enterprise and activities and this other person’s business.
The only difference between the trademark of the Complainant "Louis Vuitton" and the domain name "luisvuitton.com" is the absence of the letter "o" in luisvuitton.com. This small difference is not perceptible in the English or the Spanish languages, for example, so that the way to pronounce both words in these languages would be identical or almost identical. As such few English or Spanish speakers would notice the difference, and most search engines would lead to luisvuitton.com as well as vuitton.com. The panel therefore finds that the domain name of the Respondent is confusingly similar to the trademark names and domain name of the Complainant.
B. Respondent’s Rights or Legitimate Interests in the Domain Name
The Respondent defaulting in the present proceedings has not provided evidence of any circumstance giving rise to a right or legitimate interest in the domain name. On the contrary, a short perusal of the list of domain names that are registered by the Respondent might lead to believe that the Respondent either registers suggestive domain names such as "sexogratis2", "hotsex4" or "babies4free" or domain names referring to well known entities or marks such as "Mumm-Reims", "ChampagneKrug" or "ChampagneMoët" and the names of banks.
C. Domain Name Registered and Used in Bad Faith
The list of domain names registered by the Respondent is prima facie evidence of a registration in bad faith, in the absence of any explanation given by the Respondent on the possible grant of a license in its favor by the holders of the trademarks Krug, Mumm, Moët and other well known brands.
Further, the Respondent’s message of July 3, 2000, mentions under points 5 and 6 "il dominio sta per essere ceduto a titolo gratuito ad un societа greca interessata. Se siete interessati ad evitarlo, esiste un modo... A buon intenditore poche parole!" which translates approximately "the domain is about to be given free to a Greek company interested in it. If you are interested in avoiding that, there exists a way... to those who understand few words!".
Therefore, the intent to pressure the Complainant into buying back the domain name is obvious, which is in itself a reason to find bad faith, absent exceptional circumstances.
In light of the foregoing, the panel decides that the domain name registered by the Respondent is confusingly similar to the corresponding trademark of the Complainant, that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of this domain name and that the domain name in issue has been registered and is being used in bad faith by the Respondent.
Accordingly the panel requires that the domain name luisvuitton.com be transferred to the Complainant.
7 July 2000