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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Maison Fondйe en 1772 v. David Lloyd-Jones
Case No. D2000-0916
1. The Parties
Complainant is VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN, MAISON FONDEE EN 1772, having its registered offices at 12 rue de Temple, 51100 Reims, France. Complainant is represented by Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C., Attorneys, having their principal place of business at 866 United Nations Plaza New York, New York 10017, USA.
Respondent is a citizen of the United Kingdom with a postal address at Black Lane 56, Sandiway, Northwich, Cheshire, Chester, CW82NP United Kingdom. Respondent represented himself.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The domain name at issue is: "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.Com" (hereinafter "the Domain Name").
The registrar of the Domain Name at issue is Register.com, Inc., 575 Eighth Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 USA.
3. Procedural History
On October 3, 2000, after having receiving Benoit Van Asbroeck’s completed and signed statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, the WIPO Center transmitted to the parties a Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel.
The procedural history prior to the appointment of the Administrative Panel can be summarized as follows:
August 1 -/ August 3, 2000
(1) Complaint (e-mail) / One original and four hard copies with Annexes
August 7, 2000
(2) E-mail from Center to Complainant acknowledging receipt of Complaint in electronic version (+communication record)
August 9 / August 15, 2000
(3) Center’s Request for Registrar (Register.com) Verification / Registrar (Register.com) Verification
August 15, 2000
(4) Center’s Formal Requirements Compliance Checklist
August 24, 2000
(5) Notification of Complaint and Commencement of Administrative Proceeding (+ communication records)
September 12 / September 13 / September 18, 2000
(6) Respondent's Response filed by E-mail / Center's Acknowledgement of Receipt (Response) / Respondent's e-mail indicating Response to be copied to Complainant by fax / Four hardcopies of Response (+communication records)
October 3, 2000
(7) Notification of Appointment of Administrative Panel and Projected Decision Date
The language of the administrative proceeding is English, being the language of the registration agreement.
4. Factual Background
Complainant is a producer of a reputed brand of champagne.
The complaint is based upon Complainant's claimed rights in the trademarks "VEUVE CLICQUOT" and "VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN".
In January 2000, Respondent registered the domain name "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com". In a correspondence dated June, 16, 2000, Respondent's representative, Ms. Gladston, proposed the Domain Name to Complainant in the following terms: "I realise that you have registered several forms of your name but would like to offer you one more. Only if you decide that you do not want to own veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com, will I consider how I would like to manage or market this web presence."
The disputed URL is not used as a website. However, the Domain Name is listed for sale at the website GreatDomain.com. The GreatDomain.com's site reports that offers less than $ 2500.00 for sale of the Domain Name will not be forwarded to the domain name's owner.
5. Parties’ Contentions
According to Paragraph 4(b)(i) of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 (hereinafter "the Policy"), Complainant requests a transfer in its favour of the Domain Name since it cumulatively meets the conditions listed under Paragraph 4 (a) of the Policy or, in the alternative, that the Domain Name be cancelled and that it be given advance notice thereof so that it can register the Domain Name.
Respondent cannot demonstrate or establish any legitimate interest in the Domain Name. There exists no relationship between Complainant and Respondent that would give rise to any licence, permission or other right by which Respondent could own or use any domain name incorporating Complainant's famous mark.
Respondent declares in his response that he would be glad to have Complainant arrange for transfer of the domain name "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com".
However, Respondent claims to have acted in good faith and therefore seeks refund of the costs he has incurred to date. This good faith should be deduced from the following:
- absence of risk of confusion with Complainant's products, since the Domain Name is neither used nor listed on any search engine.
- willingness to offer and not to sell the Domain Name to Complainant.
- absence of instruction given to GreatDomain website for selling the Domain Name.
6. Discussion and Findings
Pursuant to paragraph 15(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute
Resolution Policy (hereinafter "the Rules"), the Administrative Panel shall issue its decision on the basis of the statements and documents submitted in accordance with the Policy, these Rules and any rules and principles of law that it deems applicable.
Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy provides that a Complainant must cumulatively establish each of the following three conditions to successfully challenge a registered domain name:
(1) that the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and,
(2) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) that the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Considering that Respondent in the conclusion of its Response has formally declared that "it would be glad to have Complainant arrange transfer of the name" and that his representative’s letter dated June 6, 2000 should be read as showing his willingness to offer free of charge the Domain Name to Complainant, the Administrative Panel is bound to follow the prior declaration and shall as a result require that the registration of the Domain Name "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com" be transferred to Complainant. However, for the sake of completeness, the Administrative Panel shall briefly examine whether the conditions specified under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are satisfied here.
Identity or Confusing Similarity
VEUVE CLICQUOT and VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN appear to be registered trademarks of Complainant. The Administrative Panel shall not discuss the quality of the evidence submitted with respect to the latter trademark i.e. VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN. Firstly, it has not been questioned by Respondent. Secondly such discussion would in any event have little impact on the present case since VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN is very similar to VEUVE CLICQUOT and the latter trademark is world famous and well-known within the meaning of article 6 bis of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and article 16 §2 of the Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property. Complainant has indeed presented considerable evidence of the famous and distinctive character of the term "Clicquot".
In view of the above, the Administrative Panel finds that the domain name "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com" with exception of the top level domain, ".com", which is irrelevant, is obviously identical or confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark.
Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name
Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted Respondent to use any of its trademarks or to apply for any domain name incorporating any of those marks.
Respondent in his response does not invoke any circumstances which could demonstrate, according to Paragraph 4 (c) of the Policy, his rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name. To the contrary, it appears clearly from his contention that Respondent does not use the Domain Name as a website.
Registration and Use in Bad Faith
It appears from Respondent's representative’s letter dated June 6, 2000 that Respondent is collecting domains names.
Although Respondent denies having both registered the Domain Name and having contacted GreatDomain website for selling purposes, he states in his response that "the only reason for registering this name could be for the purpose of its transfer or for a site dedicated to the prowess of Complainant's Champagne". Moreover, the Administrative Panel observes that Respondent's representative in the above-mentioned letter states " Only if you decide that you do not want to own veuve-clicquot-ponsardin.com, will I consider how I would like to manage or market this web presence" and that the Domain Name is for sale at GreatDomain.com.
In view of the foregoing and pursuant to Paragraph 4 (b) of the Policy, the Administrative Panel finds that Respondent has registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith.
Consequently, the Administrative Panel considers that in this case the three cumulative conditions provided under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy are met.
Finally the Administrative Panel must reject Respondent’s claim for refund of the costs he has incurred. Such remedy has not been provided for either by the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy or by the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
In light of the foregoing, the Administrative Panel decides that the domain name "veuve-clicquot-ponsardin. com" must be transferred to Complainant in accordance with the ICANN rules.
Benoit Van Asbroeck
Dated: October 17, 2000