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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Singapore Airlines Limited v. Hotel Price and Patricia de la Torre
Case No. D2001-0595
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Singapore Airlines Limited, a corporation under the laws of the Republic of Singapore having a principal place of business at Airline House, 25 Airline Road, Singapore 819829. It is represented by Mr Roy Goldberg of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Attorneys of Washington DC, U.S.A.
The Respondents are Hotel Price and Patricia de la Torre of 705 Martens Ct. PMB 8-121, Laredo, Texas, 78041-3010, U.S.A. The Respondents are not represented by counsel and filed a short, informal response via email.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The contested domain name is <singapore-airline.com>.
The registrar is Tucows at 96 Mowat Avenue, Toronto, ON M6K 3M1, Canada.
3. Procedural History
The electronic version of the Complaint was filed on April 24, 2001. The hardcopy of the Complaint was received on April 27, 2001.
In accordance with Paragraph 4(a) of the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("ICANN Rules") and Paragraph 5 of the Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("Supplemental Rules"), the Center verified that the Complaint satisfies the formal requirements of the ICANN Policy, ICANN Rules and Supplemental Rules.
On May 4, 2001, the Center formally notified the Respondents of the Complaint and of the commencement of this administrative proceedings and sent copies to the Complainant, the Registrar and ICANN.
The Respondents failed to file a response. On May 25, 2001, the Center sent a Notification of Respondent Default by email to the Respondents and the Complainant.
On June 6, 2001, the Center contacted John Swinson and requested that he act as panelist in this case.
Mr. Swinson accepted to act as panelist in this case and submitted a Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence.
On June 6, 2001, the parties were notified that Mr. Swinson had been appointed and that a decision was to be, save exceptional circumstances, handed down on June 19, 2001.
The language of the proceeding is English.
The Panel is satisfied that the Complaint was filed in accordance with the requirements of the ICANN Rules and Supplemental Rules; payment was properly made; the Panel agrees with the Center’s assessment concerning the Complaint’s compliance with the formal requirements; the Complaint was properly notified to the Respondents in accordance with paragraph 2(b) of the ICANN Rules; no Response was filed by the Respondents; the Administrative Panel was properly constituted.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant owns and operates Singapore Airlines, a leading international air carrier that offers commercial passenger and cargo service to more than 70 cities and 35 countries throughout the world. The Complainant has operated its international air services since 1972 and prides itself on the quality of those services.
The Complainant claims that it owns the trademark rights in relation to the words "Singapore Airlines". The Complainant has registered the "Singapore Airlines" mark (the words "Singapore Airlines" plus an image) in numerous countries throughout the world, including the United States of America, Singapore and Australia.
The Complainant has registered several domain names including <singaporeairlines.com>, <singapore-airlines.com> and <singaporeair.com>.
The Complainant uses the "Singapore Airlines" mark to promote and market its aviation services worldwide through various marketing channels, including websites. The Panel is able to take judicial notice of the fact that its "Singapore Airlines" mark is distinctive and universally associated with the Complainant’s airline.
The Complainant has not granted any license or other authority to the Respondents to use the contested domain name.
The registrant of the contested domain name is listed as Hotel Price. The administrative contact is Patricia de la Torre. The whois database lists the same address for the registrant and the administrative contact. The Panel will treat Hotel Price as the Respondent in this dispute and Patricia de la Torre as a representative of the Respondent ("Respondents").
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant submits that:
(a) the contested domain name is virtually identical to the Complainant’s trade mark;
(b) the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in the use of a domain name that includes the term "Singapore Airlines". The name is a "house" service mark that belongs solely to the Complainant; and
(c) the Respondents registered and are using the contested domain name in bad faith.
The website accessible by the contested domain name is a travel discount website headed "Lowest-Airfare.com" which purports to offer "the Internet’s lowest fares!". This website offers discount travel products for sale, such as air tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars.
The Complainant submits that the dominant colors of the website are blue and gold, which imitate the dominant colors of the Complainant’s official website.
The Complainant submits that the website accessible at singapore-airline.com states that the Respondent Patricia de la Torre is the Public Relations Manager for lowest-airfare.com. A website almost identical to the website at http://www.singapore-airline.com appears at http://www.lowest-airfare.com. The Respondent Hotel Price also maintains a website at www.hotel-price.com. The Complainant states that this website purports to offer discounts for hotels throughout the world. The website states that it is "Published by Travel Reservations Network Europe and Incoming Services". The link to "Travel Reservations Network" links directly to the website for "lowest-airfare.com".
The Complainant submits that, as the Respondents are in the business of selling discount travel products, the Respondents must have known of the Complainant’s mark and the goodwill in the "Singapore Airlines" mark. The Complainant submits that the Respondents have registered and are intentionally using the contested domain name to attract, for commercial gain, internet users to the singapore-airline.com website. The Complainant submits that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name.
The Respondents failed to file a formal Response within the time limit set by the Center.
Apparently on behalf of the Respondents, Marcel Stillekens sent an email to WIPO stating "I received the message, and me Marcel Stillekens registered the domain Singapore-airline.com Why??? Because it was available, and I didn’t knew that I was doing something illegal. And then another thing, why Singapore Airlines don’t register all the names they want? It’s cost only $15, and for that price they don’t register it, and now make a lot off cost now on lawyers to get the name. I think they have a very wrong management, you don’t think so? I get reservations for tickets on Singapore Airlines, so they can be thankful to me, that I help them getting their planes full!! So, I don’t know what to do, I talk with my lawyer, but I’m not gone make a lot off expenses for Singapore Airlines".
6. Discussion and Findings
In order to qualify for a remedy, the Complainant must prove each of the three elements set out in Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, as approved by ICANN on October 24, 1999 ("ICANN Policy"), namely:
(a) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
(b) the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(c) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The onus of proving these elements is that of the Complainant.
6.1 Identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark
The Complainant is the owner of the registered word and image trade mark "Singapore Airlines".
The Panel finds that the "Singapore Airlines" name is well-known throughout the world. The domain name <singapore-airline.com> is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s registered word and image trade mark. The only difference between the contested domain name and the words "Singapore Airlines" is the deletion of the "s" at the end of the word "airline" and the addition of a hyphen.
The use or absence of punctuation marks, such as hyphens and spaces, does not alter the fact that a domain name is confusingly similar to a mark: Chernow Communications, Inc. v. Jonathon D. Kimball, WIPO Case No. D2000-0119; The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd v. Powell, WIPO Case No. D2000-0038; SeekAmerica Networks, Inc. v. Tariq Masood and Solo Signs, WIPO Case No. D2000-0131; Hewlett-Packard Company v. Cupcake City, Case No. FA0002000093562; InfoSpace.com, Inc. v. Tenenbaum Ofer, WIPO Case No. D2000-0075; EFG Bank European Financial Group SA v. Jacob Foundation, WIPO Case No. D2000-0036; Colgate-Palmolive Company v. Charles Kasinga, Case No. FA0002000094203; AT&T Corp v. WorldclassMedia.com, WIPO Case No. D2000-0553.
The Complainant has been successful in a number of domain name disputes involving domain names similar to the words "Singapore Airlines". In Singapore Airlines Limited v European Travel Network, WIPO Case No. D2000-0641, on virtually identical facts to this complaint, a respondent who was in the business of selling discount travel products and who was using the words "Singapore Airlines" was ordered to transfer the domain name "singaporeairlines.org" (among others) to the Complainant. Similarly, in Singapore Airlines Limited v P&P Servicios de Communication S.L., WIPO Case No. D2000-0643, the respondent was ordered to transfer the domain name "singaporeairlines.com" to the Complainant.
The Panel finds that the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests in the contested domain name. The website at http://www.singapore-airline.com promotes the Respondents’ website at http://www.lowest-airfare.com. The singapore-airline.com website is virtually identical to the website at lowest-airfare.com. The purpose of the singapore-airline.com website is clearly to promote the services of lowest-airfare.com. The Panel finds that the Respondents are using the contested domain name to direct persons who are interested in Singapore Airlines’ services to those discount travel services offered by Lowest-Airfare.com. The Respondents appear to have a legitimate interest in the domain name lowest-airfare.com, but not in the contested domain name, singapore-airline.com.
6.3 Bad Faith
The Panel finds that the Respondents have registered and used the domain name <singapore-airline.com> in bad faith for the following reasons:
(a) <singapore-airline.com> is so obviously connected with the Complainant’s well known airline that its very use by someone with no connection with the airline suggests opportunistic bad faith. See Singapore Airlines Limited v European Travel Network, WIPO Case No. D2000-0641 and Singapore Airlines Limited v P&P Servicios de Communication S.L., WIPO Case No. D2000-0643;
(b) the Respondents could not have possibly ignored the fact that the "Singapore Airlines" mark is widely and uniquely associated with the Complainant’s international airline and other services offered by the Complainant. The fact that the Respondents are a discount travel agent creates an almost irrefutable inference of registration and use in bad faith of a domain name purporting to refer to a major world airline; and
(c) the Respondents have intentionally registered and used the contested domain name to attract internet users to the Respondents’ own services for the Respondents’ commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark.
For the reasons set forth above and pursuant to Paragraph 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the contested domain name <singapore-airline.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: June 19, 2001