The Complainant is MP Bedford Property LLC of New York, New York, United States of America (“United States”) represented by Polsinelli PC Law firm of Chicago, Illinois, United States.
The Respondent is Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, United States / Christian Ronaldo of Manila, Philippines.
The disputed domain name <therenwickhotelnewyork.com> (the “Disputed Domain Name”) is registered with GoDaddy.com, LLC (the “Registrar”).
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on September 12, 2018. On September 13, 2018, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the Disputed Domain Name. On September 13, 2018, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for the Disputed Domain Name which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint. The Center sent an email communication to the Complainant on September 14, 2018, providing the registrant and contact information disclosed by the Registrar, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on September 14, 2018.
The Center verified that the Complaint and amended Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), 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 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on September 17, 2018. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was October 7, 2018. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on October 9, 2018.
The Center appointed Nick J. Gardner as the sole panelist in this matter on October 15, 2018. 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.
The Complainant owns and operates a hotel in New York called the Renwick Hotel. The hotel is named after a well-known architect, James Renwick, who designed various famous New York buildings. The filed evidence establishes it is an upmarket and prestigious hotel. The Complainant owns U.S. trademark registration No. 4,995,096 for THE RENWICK (“THE RENWICK” trademark) registered on July 5, 2016.
The Disputed Domain Name was originally created on May 7, 2014. However, according to the WhoIs evidence submitted by the Complainant, the Disputed Domain Name has been transferred to what seem to be unrelated registrants since its creation and, it seems, the Respondent became the registrant of the Disputed Domain Name at some point around May or June, 2018. The Complaint shows that it has been linked to a webpage which purports to be that of the Renwick Hotel and which includes images copied without authorization from the Complainant’s own literature. While indexes and some text on the website are in English most of the text appears to be in Indonesian (as detected by Google translate).
The Complainant says that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to its THE RENWICK trademark, with the Dispute Domain Name being a combination of that trademark with the descriptive word “hotel” and a geographic term relating to its location added.
The Complainant says that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the term “THE RENWICK” or “Renwick Hotel”.
The Complainant says that the Respondent’s registration and use of the Disputed Domain Name is in bad faith. They say it is being used to link to a website which falsely purports to be that of, or affiliated with, the Complainant’s hotel.
No Response has been filed.
The Panel notes that no communication has been received from the Respondent. However given the Complaint and Written Notice were sent to the relevant addresses disclosed by the Registrar then the Panel considers that this satisfies the requirement in paragraph 2(a) of the UDRP Rules to “employ reasonably available means calculated to achieve actual notice”. Accordingly, the Panel considers it is able to proceed to determine this Complaint and to draw inferences from the Respondent’s failure to file any Response. While the Respondent’s failure to file a Response does not automatically result in a decision in favor of the Complainant, the Panel may draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default (see, e.g., Verner Panton Design v. Fontana di Luce Corp, WIPO Case No. D2012-1909).
The Panel also notes this is a case where one Respondent (“Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC”) appears to be a privacy or proxy service.
The Panel in this case adopts the approach of most UDRP panels, as outlined in WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”) at section 4.4.5, as follows:
In all cases involving a privacy or proxy service and irrespective of the disclosure of any underlying registrant, the appointed panel retains discretion to determine the respondent against which the case should proceed.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case, e.g., where a timely disclosure is made, and there is no indication of a relationship beyond the provision of privacy or proxy registration services, a panel may find it appropriate to apply its discretion to record only the underlying registrant as the named respondent. On the other hand, e.g., where there is no clear disclosure, or there is some indication that the privacy or proxy provider is somehow related to the underlying registrant or use of the particular domain name, a panel may find it appropriate to record both the privacy or proxy service and any nominally underlying registrant as the named respondent.”
In the present case the Panel considers the substantive Respondent to be Christian Ronaldo (which may itself be a pseudonym given the well-known footballer with a very similar name) and references to the Respondent are to that person.
To succeed, in accordance with paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, the Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:
(i) the Disputed Domain Name is identical with or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name;
(iii) the Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Panel considers the Disputed Domain Name to be confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark THE RENWICK. It is established that the addition of a descriptive or geographic term (such as here “hotel” and “New York”) to a disputed domain name has little, if any, effect on a determination of confusing similarity between the domain name and the mark (Quixtar Investments, Inc. v. Dennis Hoffman, WIPO Case No. D2000-0253); furthermore, mere addition of a generic or descriptive term does not prevent a finding of confusing similarity under the first element (PRL USA Holdings, Inc. v. Spiral Matrix, WIPO Case No. D2006-0189).
It is also well established that the generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), in this case “.com”, does not affect the Disputed Domain Name for the purpose of determining whether it is identical or confusingly similar. See, for example, Rollerblade, Inc. v. Chris McCrady, WIPO Case No. D2000-0429.
Accordingly the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to the Complainant’s trademark and hence the first condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
The Panel finds THE RENWICK trademark is, on the evidence before the Panel, a term in which the Complainant has developed a substantial reputation in relation to its well-known hotel in New York.
Paragraph 4(c) of the Policy provides a list of circumstances any of which is sufficient to demonstrate that a respondent has rights or legitimate interests in a domain name:
(i) before any notice to the respondent of the dispute, use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or
(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if the respondent has acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or
(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.
None of these apply in the present circumstances. The Complainant has not authorised, licensed, or permitted the Respondent to register or use the Disputed Domain Name or to use THE RENWICK trademark. The Complainant has prior rights in the THE RENWICK trademark which precede the Respondent’s acquisition of the Disputed Domain Name. The Complainant has therefore established a prima facie case that the Respondent does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name and thereby the burden of production shifts to the Respondent to produce evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Disputed Domain Name (see, for example, Do The Hustle, LLC v. Tropic Web, WIPO Case No. D2000-0624; Croatia Airlines d.d. v. Modern Empire Internet Ltd., WIPO Case No. D2003-0455).
The Panel finds that the Respondent has failed to produce any evidence to establish his rights or legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name. Accordingly the Panel finds the Respondent has no rights or any legitimate interests in the Disputed Domain Name and the second condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled.
In the present circumstances, the distinctive nature of THE RENWICK trademark, and the evidence as to the extent of the reputation the Complainants enjoy in THE RENWICK trademark, and the fact that the Disputed Domain Name combines THE RENWICK trademark with the word “hotel” and the name of the city in which the hotel is located and the lack of any explanation from the Respondent as to why he registered the Disputed Domain Name lead the Panel to conclude the registration and use were in bad faith.
The Panel concludes that the Respondent chose to register a name comprising the Complainant’s trademark combined with the descriptive word “hotel” and a generic geographical identifier. The evidence before the Panel does not provide sufficient material for the Panel to reach a conclusion on exactly what the Respondent’s intention was in so doing. Under paragraph 4(b) of the Policy a non-exhaustive list of factors evidencing registration and use in bad faith comprises:
(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.
In the present circumstances factor (ii) is not applicable but the Panel cannot clearly determine which, if any, of the other factors may apply. It seems likely that factor (iv) applies but it is not entirely clear to the Panel what if any commercial gain the Respondent is obtaining from his website. However, the Panel notes that in any event this list is non exhaustive and takes the view that the acquisition of the Disputed Domain Name with knowledge of the Complainants’ trademark is itself evidence of bad faith – see The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd. v. John Powell, WIPO Case No. D2000-0038. This is particularly so given that the Respondent has not filed a Response and hence has not availed himself of the opportunity to present any case of good faith that he might have. The Panel infers that none exists.
In addition, the fact that the Disputed Domain Name has been used to resolve to a webpage that purports to be that of the Complainant’s and its hotel, and which includes images copied from the Complainant’s own literature, supports a finding of bad faith.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Disputed Domain Name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Accordingly the third condition of paragraph 4(a) of the Policy has been fulfilled
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Disputed Domain Name <the renwickhotelnewyork.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Nick J. Gardner
Date: October 22, 2018
Stay updated! Get new cases and decisions by daily email.