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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
GA Modefine S.A. v Namezero.Com
Case No. D2001-0331
1. The Parties
The Complainant in this administrative proceeding is GA MODEFINE SA. whose address is 90, Avenue de France, Lausanne, Switzerland.
The respondent in this proceeding is NAMEZERO.COM whose address is Los Gatos, California, United States of America.
2. The Domain Names and Registrar
This dispute concerns the domain names identified below (hereinafter the "Domain Names"):
<armaniexchangecolletion.com>, registered on 11 September 2000
<armaniman.com>, registered on 13 October 2000
<armani-fashion.com>, registered on 31 August 2000
<armaniexchange-fashion.com>, registered on 05 September 2000
<giorgio-armani-fashion.com>, registered on 05 September 2000
<giorgio-armani.org>, registered on 05 September 2000
<giorgioarmani-fashion.com>, registered on 05 September 2000
<e-armani.org> registered on 24 September 2000
<e-armani.net>registered on 24 September 2000
The registrar with which the domain names are registered is Network Solutions Inc.
Herndon, Virginia United States of America.
3. Procedural History
A complaint pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the policy") and the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("the Rules") both of which are implemented by ICANN on October 24, 1999 was received by WIPO in electronic format on March 7, 2001 and in hardcopy on March 15, 2001. Payment in the required amount to the Centre has been made by the Complainant.
On March 13, 2001 a request for registrar verification was sent to the Registrar requesting confirmation that it had received a copy of the complaint from the complainant, that the domain name was currently registered with it and that the policy was in effect, and requesting full details of the holder of the domain name and advice as to the current status of the domain name.
Having verified that the complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Policy and the Rules, on March 28, 2001, the Center transmitted to the Respondent its Notification of Complaint and Commencement of the Administrative Proceeding, via post/courier fax and e-mail.
On April 17, 2001 having received no response, the Centre issued a Notification of Respondent Default.
On April 27, 2001, a notification of appointment of administrative panel and projected decision date ("the appointment notification") was sent to the Complainant and the Respondent. In accordance with the Complainant’s request of an administrative panel comprised by a single panelist, the Center invited Clive Elliott.
On May 10, 2001 there was no further response received from the Respondent and accordingly Clive Elliott as the sole panelist issued his decision.
4. Factual Background
Georgio Armani is a famous Italian fashion stylist who designs and sells exclusive products offered to selected customers. While the papers do not specify it he has a business relationship of some sort with the Complainant.
The Complainant has registered several trade marks referred to as the Armani Trademarks, being GIORGIO ARMANI, ARMANI, EMPORIO ARMANI, ARMANI EXCHANGE and AX ARMANI EXCHANGE. The said trademarks cover different kinds of goods, including clothes, glasses, and perfumes in many classes with registrations in Europe, United States of America, Canada. Many other registrations exist in other countries.
The Respondent has registered several domain names containing and/or consisting of the words ARMANI, GIORGIO ARMANI and ARMANI EXCHANGE
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant states the Domain Names consist of a family name and/or trade marks "armani exchange" associated with a world famous fashion stylist combined or not with other words such as "fashion" and "collection", which distinguish the specific field of activity of the stylist. It is asserted that this reveals the intention of the Respondent to exploit the notoriety and importance of said name and Armani Trademarks and to take advantage from the unlawful use of the Armani Trademarks containing that name. It is also asserted that at the time of the registration of the Domain Names the Respondent was aware of the fame and worldwide relevance of the Armani Trademarks.
The Complainant asserts that with the exception of the site <armaniman.com> which resolves to a porn site, that as at the date of February 2, 2001 no relevant web sites were operative.
The Complainant notes and has provided evidence that the Respondent has registered many different domain names (more than 100). None of these assertions are denied and in the absence of such denial are accepted.
In September 2000 the Complainant sent a warning letter to the Respondent in which it contested the registration of the domain names <e-armani.com>, <armani-exchange.com>and <armanis.com>. The Respondent offered to sell the above mentioned domain names to the Complainant adding also <armani-exchange-fashion.com>. The amount sought was the sum USD $99 for each domain name. The panel was asked to consider the cumulative monetary effect of such a proposal.
B. The Respondent
The Respondent filed no response.
6. Discussion and Findings
Para. 4(a) of the Policy requires that the complainant must prove each of the following:
- The domain names are identical or confusingly similar to the trade mark; and
- The respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the domain names; and
- The domain names have been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Para. 4(b) of the Policy sets out four illustrative circumstances that, if proved, constitute evidence of bad faith as required by para. 4(a)(iii) referred to above.
Para. 4(c) of the Policy sets out three illustrative circumstances that, if proved, constitute evidence of a right or legitimate interest as described in para. 4(a)(ii) referred to above.
Domain Names Identical to or Confusing Similar
It appears from the complaint and evidence, and is not disputed by the Respondent that, in its various manifestations, GIORGIO ARMANI, ARMANI, EMPORIO ARMANI, and ARMANI EXCHANGE are registered and recognized in the United States and internationally. It is also asserted and not disputed that Giorgio Armani is a fashion stylist of world renown.
Such fame and recognition applies whether the trade mark GIORGIO ARMANI or ARMANI is rendered in a particular way and with or without embellishment. By the same token, it would be reasonable to assume that GIORGIO ARMANI, ARMANI, EMPORIO ARMANI, ARMANI EXCHANGE and AX ARMANI EXCHANGE are somehow connected or associated with the person Giorgio Armani or his licensees or associates.
The Complainant uses ARMANI with a range of other descriptive or generic terms to identify various aspects of its business. Likewise, it has registered and used a number of domain names in the same way, containing and/or consisting of the words armani, giorgio armani and armani exchange.
The Domain Names are clearly a combination of common words associated with the Complainant and identifying its business. They are confusingly similar to various names and the Armani Trademarks as registered/used by the Complainant in the course of its business.
No Right or Legitimate Interest
Given the substantial exposure, registration and use of the Armani Trademarks and in the absence of any explanation from the Respondent as to why it might have a right or legitimate interest in using the Armani Trademarks or variations thereof, it is found that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest to use ARMANI or GIORGIO ARMANI, where these words form the essential part of the domain name.
Accordingly, it is found that the Respondent has no right or legitimate interest in respect of the Domain Names.
Domain Names Registered and Being Used in Bad Faith
When the Domain Names were registered the international reputation in the name
Armani/Giorgio Armani and the Armani Trademarks was well established. In light of the above findings, it is found that the registration was, on the face of it, made in bad faith.
It appears that, subject to one exception, there has been no use of the Domain Names by the Respondent. However, it is now well established that such use is not necessary. The only use made appears to be of "armaniman.com" on a porn site. Such use is not asserted to be in good faith and it hardly could be.
The Complainant makes out its case on this ground.
Accordingly, the Complainant has successfully made out all three of the above grounds and is entitled to appropriate relief.
The Domain Names should be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: May 10, 2001