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WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Sdf fdgg

Case No. D2004-0384

 

1. The Parties

The Complainant is Six Continents Hotels, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, of United States of America, represented by Needle & Rosenberg, PC, United States of America.

The Respondent is Sdf fdgg, Moskow, of Russian Federation.

 

2. The Domain Name and Registrar

The disputed domain name <holidayinnexpressburl.com> is registered with Parava Networks, Inc. dba RegistrateYa.com & nAAme.com.

 

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on May 25, 2004. On May 26, 2004, the Center transmitted by email to Parava Networks, Inc. dba RegistrateYa.com & nAAme.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June 2, 2004, Parava Networks, Inc. dba RegistrateYa.com & nAAme.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details for the administrative, billing, and technical contact. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), 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 June 3, 2004. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was June 23, 2004. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on June 29, 2004.

The Center appointed Leon Trakman as the sole panelist in this matter on July 7, 2004. 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 Six Continents Hotels, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Georgia. According to the Whois database, the domain name registrant and Respondent in this administrative proceeding is sdf fdgg, with an address in Moskow, Russia. The Domain Name in dispute was registered on February 19, 2004.

 

5. Parties’ Contentions

Complainant contends that the domain name <holidayinnexpressburl.com> (the “Domain Name”) is identical to or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights.

Complainant alleges that, directly or through its predecessors in interest, it has used the mark HOLIDAY INN in connection with lodging and restaurant services in hotels and motels since at least as early as 1952; that Complainant itself, or through an affiliate, owns, manages and/or franchises the HOLIDAY INN, HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, HOLIDAY INN SELECT, and HOLIDAY INN SUNSPREE brand hotels and resorts (“HOLIDAY INN Hotels”) and the CROWNE PLAZA, STAYBRIDGE SUITES, INTERCONTINENTAL and CANDLEWOOD SUITES brand hotels worldwide (collectively, “SCH Brand Hotels”); that there are more than 2,900 HOLIDAY INN Hotels in more than 70 countries throughout the world; that HOLIDAY INN is the most global hotel brand; and that Complainant owns approximately 1,237 registrations for its mark HOLIDAY INN and HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS in approximately 182 countries. Complainant provides documentation to support these contentions, including copies of the United States certificates of registration and/or printouts from the Trademark.com database establishing the validity of Complainant’s ownership of these registrations.

Complainant also alleges that, in the last 50 years, it or its predecessors in interest, have spent nearly $1 billion advertising and promoting the HOLIDAY INN Marks and HOLIDAY INN Hotels worldwide; and that its franchisees spend additional sums of money advertising their individual hotels. It contends that: “As a result of Complainant’s continuous, widespread and exclusive promotion and use of the HOLIDAY INN Marks and HOLIDAY INN Hotels, the mark HOLIDAY INN has developed significant goodwill in the minds of consumers worldwide and is a famous mark.”

In support of these contentions, Complainant provides a list of hundreds of websites under the domain names <holiday-inn.com>, <holidayinnexpress.com> and <holidayinnexpressburlington.com>, among other domains which provide online reservation services for HOLIDAY INN Hotels worldwide and its other hotel brands, including CROWNE PLAZA, STAYBRIDGE SUITES, INTERCONTINENTAL and CANDLEWOOD SUITES. Complainant maintains further, that these SCH Brand Websites have been in operation since at least June 1995; and that their use has generated more than 6% of Complainants’ total HOLIDAY INN Hotel reservations.

Complainant also maintains that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name <holidayinnexpressburl.com>. Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant, is not a licensee of Complainant and is not authorized by Complainant to use any of Complainant’s trademarks as a domain name or otherwise. Upon information and belief, Complainant alleges that Respondent has never used, or made preparations to use, the Domain Name or names corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; and that Respondent is using the Domain Name to divert traffic to its pornographic website.

Complainant maintains specifically, that Respondent is using a confusingly similar domain name to redirect Internet traffic to a pornographic website depicting “images of partially clothed people urinating, and links to other pages… including those labeled “Rape Site” and “Incest & Mature Site,” that this practice does not qualify as a bona fide offering of goods or services, and that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.

Finally, Complainant contends that Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith, in an effort to intentionally attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location, in violation of the Policy.

In support of this contention, Complainant maintains that Respondent’s use of the Domain Name to divert traffic to its pornographic website constitutes bad-faith use of Complainant’s well-known trademark to attract Internet users to Respondent’s Domain Name. Complainant alleges further that Respondent’s failure to respond to correspondence by Complainant and its demands to transfer the Domain Name provides further “strong support” for a finding of bad faith. Complainant concludes that Respondent has registered and is using the <holidayinnexpressburl.com> Domain Name in bad faith.

Complainant requests that the disputed domain name be transferred to it.

B. Respondent

Respondent did not reply to Complainant’s contentions.

 

6. Discussion and Findings

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The domain name <holidayinnexpressburl.com> is identical and/or confusing similar to Complainant’s HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS mark and <holidayinnexpressburlington.com> Domain Name. The Domain Name incorporates Complainant’s mark in its entirety, albeit concluding with a shortened version of the geographically descriptive term Burlington. This use of Complainant’s HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS mark creates an impression in the minds of consumers that there is similarity between the disputed domain name and Complainant’s mark; and provides a clear indication that the disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. See Time Warner Inc. and EMI Group plc v. CPIC Net, WIPO Case No. D2000-0433.

The use of the suffix “burl” in the disputed Domain Name, rather than differentiate Respondent’s business, actually affirms the extent to which that domain name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s Mark. In particular, an Internet user considering making an online reservation at a Holiday Inn Express hotel in Burlington may well be confused by Respondent’s website, believing erroneously that Respondent’s website is related to Complainant. This is particularly the case when there are Holiday Inn Express hotels in Burlington, as in other geographic location. For argument that the use of a Complainant’s trademark in connection with a geographic term increases the likelihood of consumer confusion, see Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Ramada Inn, WIPO Case No. D2003-0658; Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. Albert Jackson, WIPO Case No. D2003-0922; and BP p.l.c. v. Kang-Sungkun Portraits Production, WIPO Case No. D2001-1097.

Respondent’s mark <holidayinnexpressburl.com> is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name <holidayinnexpressburl.com> for the reasons argued by Complainant. Respondent is not affiliated with Complainant. Respondent is not a licensee of Complainant, nor authorized to use any of Complainant’s trademarks as a domain name or otherwise. It is also clearly reasonable to assume that Respondent has never used, or made preparations to use, the Domain Name or names corresponding to the Domain Name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services.

Documentation provided by Complainant clearly demonstrates that Respondent is using the Domain Name to divert traffic to a website that automatically redirects users to a site that contains pornographic images of partially clothed people urinating, and links to other pages, including those labeled “Rape Site” and “Incest & Mature Site.” See Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. null John Zuccarini d/b/a Country Walk, WIPO Case No. D2003-0161.

In conclusion, Respondent has neither rights nor legitimate interests in the domain name in dispute. Respondent is not commonly known by the mark HOLIDAY INN or HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS; and Respondent is attempting to advantage itself by using Complainant’s globally recognized and famous HOLIDAY INN Mark. See Victoria’s Secret et. al. v. Thomas Terrerello d/b/a Domains 4 Sale, NAF Case No. FA0101000096493; Nike, Inc. v. B. B. de Boer, WIPO Case No. D2000-1397.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

Respondent has registered and is using the Domain Name in bad faith. Respondent’s purpose is intentionally to attract for commercial gain, Internet users to the Respondent’s website or other online location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the Respondent’s website or location, or of a product or service on the Respondent’s website or location, in violation of the Policy. This bad faith purpose is evidenced by Respondent’s use of a domain name that redirects Internet traffic to Respondent’s website that includes sexually explicit images. Use of another’s well-known trademark to attract Internet users to pornographic websites constitutes bad-faith use of a Domain Name. See eg. Bass Hotels and Resorts v. Mike Rodgerall, WIPO Case No. D2000-0568; Six Continents Hotels, Inc. v. null John Zuccarini d/b/a Country Walk, WIPO Case No. D2003-0161; Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. v. null John Zuccarini, Country Walk, WIPO Case No. D2002-0487.

Respondent also failed to respond to Complainant’s written demand to immediately disable the site and transfer the Domain Name to Complainant. This failure provides further “strong support for a determination of ‘bad faith’ registration and use.” See Encyclopedia Britannica v. Zucarini, WIPO Case No. D2000-0330; RRI Financial, Inc., v. Ray Chen, WIPO Case No. D2001-1242.

The Panel concludes that Respondent has registered and is using the <holidayinnexpressburl.com> domain name in bad faith.

 

7. Decision

For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name, <holidayinnexpressburl.com> be transferred to the Complainant.

 


 

Leon Trakman
Sole Panelist

Date: July 12, 2004

 

Источник информации: https://internet-law.ru/intlaw/udrp/2004/d2004-0384.html

 

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